IDA Appoints Dominic Asmall Willsdon As New Executive Director – Upnewsdaily

IDA Appoints Dominic Asmall Willsdon As New Executive Director – Upnewsdaily

The International Documentary Association has appointed Dominic Asmall Willsdon, a veteran arts curator and educator, as its new executive director, effective January 8.

Willsdon, who has served for the past five years as executive director of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, will take over from Ken Ikeda, the IDA’s interim director since January of this year. Ikeda, in turn, replaced Rick Pérez, who resigned as executive director a year ago after a stormy tenure that saw much of the nonprofit’s staff exit.

“An internationally renowned curator, educator and veteran nonprofit executive, Dominic Asmall Willsdon joins the documentary advocacy organization at a time of unique opportunity and impact unprecedented in its 41-year history,” a release from the IDA noted. “Following a year of significant progress, stabilization, and the groundbreaking ratification of its first collective bargaining agreement, Willsdon will be responsible for setting organizational strategies, with a focus on intentional advocacy efforts, expanding global reach, and deepening IDA’s commitment to a sustainable and equitable documentary ecosystem.”

The release said Willsdon’s appointment capped a “comprehensive and rigorous national search,” and it noted that IDA staff were included in the process. 

“Dominic’s ability to work fluidly with independent storytellers from around the globe, across disciplines and audiences, is an extraordinary skill,” IDA board co-presidents Grace Lee and Chris Perez said in a statement. “He’s really an educator at heart, someone who is deeply committed to sharing knowledge, access, and culture from all parts of society. Combined with his extensive management, financial, and curation experience, we believe IDA will flourish under Dominic’s leadership.”

Willsdon is a native of London, born to parents who immigrated to the U.K. from South Africa and India, the IDA release said. He founded the film program at Tate Modern in London with the British Film Institute in his first curatorial role and later joined the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as the Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs from 2006-18. “At SFMOMA, he relaunched the film program beginning with a season of Werner Herzog’s films and Wide Lens, a documentary series co-organized with AMPAS. In partnership with SFFILM, Willsdon created Modern Cinema, a reinvention of SFMOMA’s commitment to film in the context of visual art.” In 2018 he joined VCU to head up the nascent Institute for Contemporary Art. Willsdon earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Essex, England, and a master’s in fine art from Edinburgh University in Scotland.

Willsdon said in a statement, “The IDA Board and staff are a wonderful team: brilliant, dedicated, inclusive. It has already been a pleasure to share ideas with them. Together, in the coming years, we will ensure that IDA is an organization that is for anyone, anywhere in the world who cares about documentary filmmaking and its contribution to the common good.”

The IDA, founded in 1982, says its mission is “to support the vital work of documentary storytellers and champion a thriving and inclusive documentary culture.” It awards $1.2 million each year in production and development grants to nonfiction filmmakers. The IDA Documentary Awards, the organization’s signature annual event, will be held virtually on December 12, with winners announced in 18 categories, including Best Feature Documentary.

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