Thomas L. Turk Papers

Tom Turk played a significant role in the growth of state and community arts agencies across five decades. Beginning his career as an organizer of community arts agencies in Michigan in the mid-1960s, Turk went on to hold leadership positions with community arts agencies in Texas and Tennessee. Active on the national level, he served as a founding member of the Executive Board of the National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, later the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies (1977-1985), and as president of the United States Urban Arts Federation (1999-2000), the association of local arts council and commission directors in the nation's fifty largest cities.

Reflecting a long career in community arts, the Turk collection includes rich documentation of three important organizations involved in the development of the field during the late-1970s and early 2000s: the National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, and the U.S. Urban Arts Federation. The records include a nearly complete run of minutes of the Board and Executive Committee for NACAA and NALAA, along with newsletters and some financial reports, as well as materials relating to the organization and name change.

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Background on Tom Turk

A native of Indiana, Tom Turk played a significant role in the growth of state and community arts agencies across five decades. After receiving his AB in Creative Writing from De Pauw (1958) and MA in radio, television and film from Michigan State (1960), Turk was hired as Fine Arts Producer at WKAR-TV (1963-1981), the public television station in East Lansing. At a time when the field of arts management was in its infancy, he quickly established a reputation as an effective organizer and advocate for the arts and he became a pioneer in the development of community arts agencies.

A tireless worker, Turk took a leading, and sometimes formative role in developing community arts agencies, often serving several organizations at once. During his years in Michigan, he served as the President of the Metropolitan Lansing Fine Arts Council (1975-1977) and as the founding chair (later president) of the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies (1977), a statewide arts service and advocacy organization. In 1980, he was appointed by the Governor to become a member of the Michigan Council for the Arts. After relocating to Texas in 1981, he served as Executive Director of the Cultural Activities Center, in Temple, Texas, a creative and performing arts venue (1981-1991) and then as Director of the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council (1991-1993).

Beyond these primary appointments, however, Turk became well known as an active figure in state and national arts organizations. As consultant, board member, and speaker, he assisted over a dozen state arts agencies and service groups and he served on the Executive Board of the National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies (later the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies), and in 1999-2000, as president of the United States Urban Arts Federation, the association of local arts council and commission directors in the nation's fifty largest cities.

Turk accepted a position as Executive Director of the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission in 1993, and was instrumental in building an effective public art program for the city and ann organizational structure that allowed the Commission to flourish. During his time at the helm, he helped quadruple the organization's appropriations and through its granting programs and assistance in obtaining local, state and federal funding, helped to spur the expansion of local arts organizations in the region. Since retiring in 2003, Turk has worked as a consultant to non-profit arts agencies in management, advocacy, programming, and grants writing.

Contents of Collection

Reflecting a long career in community arts, the Turk collection includes rich documentation of three important organizations involved in the development of the field during the late-1970s and early 2000s: the National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, and the U.S. Urban Arts Federation. The records include a nearly complete run of minutes of the Board and Executive Committee for NACAA and NALAA, along with newsletters and some financial reports, as well as materials relating to the organization and name change, the hiring of officers such as Charles F. Dambach, Gretchen Wiest, and Bob Lynch, and (for USUAF) reports on surveys of the arts in fifty of the nation's cities.

Beyond documenting the trio of community arts organizations, the collection also includes two clutches of noteworthy material. First is a focused suite of material on the seminal Summer Institute in Arts Administration that Turk attended at Harvard in 1973, including syllabi, handouts, lecture notes, exercises, and perhaps most importantly, case studies used in the year in which Harvard shifted focus for institute to mid-career arts administrators. Second, the collection contains a suite of material relating to the visioning exercise at the Winston-Salem Arts Convocation (October 1999), in which participants worked to develop "a vision for the arts in our communities in the next quarter century."

Collection inventory
American Council for the Arts: Wichita Community Development Conference
1978
Box 1: 1
Harvard University Summer School, Institute in Arts Administration
1973
Box 1: 2
Harvard University Summer School, Institute in Arts Administration: Cases in arts administration, by Thomas C. Raymond, Stephen A. Greyser, and Douglas Schwalbe
1972 July
Box 2: 1
Harvard University Summer School, Institute in Arts Administration: Field problems
1973
Box 1: 3
Harvard University Summer School, Institute in Arts Administration: Field problems
1973
Box 1: 4
Harvard University Summer School, Institute in Arts Administration: Case studies
1973
Box 1: 5
Harvard University Summer School, Institute in Arts Administration: Case studies
1973
Box 1: 6
Harvard University Summer School, Institute in Arts Administration: King Charles County exercise
1973
Box 1: 7
Harvard University Summer School, Institute in Arts Administration: "Assignment on financial report," by Thomas L. Turk
1973
Box 1: 8
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1978-1979 June
Box 1: 9
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1978 Aug.-Nov.
Box 1: 10
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1980 Jan.-Apr.
Box 1: 11
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1980 May-Nov.
Box 1: 12
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1981 Jan.-Apr.
Box 1: 13
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1981 May-Aug.
Box 1: 14
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1981 Sept.-Dec.
Box 1: 15
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1982 Jan.-Mar.
Box 1: 16
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1982 Apr.-June
Box 1: 17
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies: By-laws
1982
Box 1: 18
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies: Connection [newsletter]
1981-1982
Box 1: 19
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies: Early history
1977-1978
Box 1: 20
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies: Financial
1980-1981
Box 1: 21
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies: NACAA Newsletter
1979
Box 1: 22
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies: NACAA Newsletter
1980
Box 1: 23
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies: NACAA Newsletter
1981
Box 1: 24
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies: Personnel
ca.1980
Box 1: 25
National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies: Two-year report
1981
Box 1: 26
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1982 July-Sept.
Box 1: 27
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1982 Oct.-Dec.
Box 1: 28
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1983 Jan.-Apr.
Box 1: 29
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1983 May-Aug.
Box 1: 30
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1983 Sept.-Dec.
Box 1: 31
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1984 Jan.-May
Box 1: 32
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1984 June-Aug.
Box 1: 33
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1984 Sept.-Dec.
Box 1: 34
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, Board of Directors
1985 Jan.-May
Box 1: 35
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies: By-laws
1982
Box 1: 36
United States Urban Arts Federation
1998
Box 1: 37
United States Urban Arts Federation
1999
Box 1: 38
United States Urban Arts Federation
2000
Box 1: 39
United States Urban Arts Federation
2001
Box 1: 40
United States Urban Arts Federation
2002
Box 1: 41
United States Urban Arts Federation
2003
Box 1: 42
United States Urban Arts Federation: Description of Model Arts Program
ca.2002
Box 1: 43
United States Urban Arts Federation: Report on Arts Councils in the 50 largest U.S. cities
1996
Box 1: 44
United States Urban Arts Federation: Statistical report about the budgets and programming of Arts Councils in the 50 largest U.S. cities
1997, 1998
Box 1: 45
United States Urban Arts Federation: Statistical report about the budgets and programming of Arts Councils in the 50 largest U.S. cities
2000, 2001
Box 1: 46
Winston-Salem Arts Convocation packet, parts 1-3
1999
Box 1: 47
Winston-Salem Arts Convocation packet, parts 4-5
1999
Box 1: 48
Winston-Salem Arts Convocation packet, visioning workshop handouts
1999
Box 1: 49

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English

Provenance

Gift of Thomas L. Turk, Sept. 2015.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Sept. 2015.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Thomas L. Turk Papers (MS 831). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Arts management--United States
  • Community arts projects

Link to similar SCUA collections

Names

  • Dambach, Charles F.
  • Harvard University. Summer School of Arts and Sciences and of Education. Institute in Arts Administration
  • Lynch, Robert L.
  • National Assembly of Community Arts Agencies
  • National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies
  • United States Urban Arts Federation
  • Winston-Salem Arts Convocation

Genre terms

  • Minutes (Administrative records)