- PHOTO PROVIDED
- Flower City Arts Center's Executive Director Kristin Rapp.
Rapp, 54, is a native of Dansville, New York, and has lived in Rochester for more than 30 years. She comes to the center with a background in both social work and nonprofit leadership. Rapp is an artist and previously ran a private therapy practice for individuals and couples.
“I think the arts are naturally therapeutic,” she said. “And I think we live in a world right now that needs healing. And so I think that's a foundational element to what we do and what we can offer. And I think there's a lot of opportunities for doing more in the community and getting involved.”
The rallying cry of Flower City Arts Center is “Arts for All,” and Rapp said that as the new director, she wants to go forward with that in mind. She says that she wants to help the center magnify and expand what it already does well, such as its Studio 678 program, which is a middle school photo club for Rochester City School District students. The current participants of that program have an exhibit of their work up at the George Eastman Museum’s new locally-focused Gallery Obscura.
There are also plans for a community mural collaboration with the Center for Teen Empowerment. But Rapp said her immediate priority has been to learn more about the ideas that current staff members have and put them into play.
Rapp’s hiring marks the third change in the center’s leadership since 2020, when former director Janice Gouldthorpe, who held the position for 15 years, resigned. Photographer and lawyer Ross Lanzafame served as the interim director until January of 2021, when Cheryl McKeiver, whose background is in the finance world, was hired. McKeiver resigned in late 2022.
The center’s Director of Ceramics Kate Whorton, who has been with the organization for 16 years, said that the past three years have been a period of constant change, and that she feels optimistic about the near future.
“I think we need just what we have in Kris Rapp, which is a very engaged and energetic person,” Whorton said. “And now we're on the other side of a pandemic, I think we are really ready to go. We're ready to take off.”
The Flower City Arts Center will host its inaugural Earth Day Open House — with hands-on activities for families — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 22. Admission is free. Learn more at flowercityarts.org.
Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's life editor. She can be reached at [email protected].