Arts Garage CEO, president Alyona Ushe to resign

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By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor

The self-proclaimed “czarina” of Delray Beach’s performing arts venue Arts Garage Alyona Ushe will step down from her throne as president and chief executive officer.

She announced Monday through a press release that she will focus her talents on Pompano Beach’s arts venues full time.

Ushe, who has led the nonprofit Arts Garage for five years, said she will stay on board until her replacement is named.

“Launching Arts Garage and catapulting it to the success story it has become, has been exceptionally rewarding,” she said in a statement.

She helped create the cultural arts hub, which is located inside the city’s Old School Square parking garage. The Arts Garage offers performing arts, concerts and educational activities that began during the economic downfall when the city couldn’t find a  tenant for the space.

The Arts Garage grew in popularity and in controversy over the years. Some city commissioners expressed concerns that Ushe had taken on a role in the city of Pompano Beach without asking permission from Delray in 2014.

That’s because the Arts Garage emerged from a group called the Creative City Collaborative, which focused solely on arts and culture in the city of Delray.

Delray commissioners also raised concerns about the Arts Garage’s financials and management recently. The Arts Garage is heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars and a recent audit of the organization raised some concerns for city agencies that provide grants to the nonprofit.

Arts Garage officials told the city they planned to buy its space from the city, but couldn’t close on the contract. Commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to allow the group to stay on a month-to-month basis until a new lease agreement can be arranged.

Mayor Cary Glickstein had made it clear that he wanted to see permanent changes in the management of the Arts Garage.

Ultimately, Ushe said she decided to focus on Pompano and its new cultural venues, the amphitheater known as “The Amp” and the cultural center, which is under construction. It is scheduled to open in 2017.

Pompano officials said they are happy to gain Ushe full time.

“We are thrilled that Alyona and her team will be able to devote all of their talents to Pompano Beach,” said Mark Beaudreau, parks, recreation and cultural arts director of Pompano in a statement.

Ushe and the Arts Garage board said they would answer media questions after Tuesday.