The San Francisco Unified School District announced last week it hired Donn Harris, currently director of the Oakland School of the Arts (OSA), to be its new executive director of art programs.
Harris, who is on the California Arts Council, was the director of the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (now Asawa SOTA) for seven years before he was asked to be the OSA director in 2013 by then Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown.
Starting July 1, he will be the district’s Executive Director for Creativity and The Arts, and he’ll be tasked with ensuring equity and access to arts programs, as well as leading the development of the district’s $300 million arts center project.
“San Francisco has invested in arts education to a degree unseen elsewhere in the nation. Creativity is clearly a core value of our city, and we have work ahead to infuse that spirit into the daily life of our schools: examining contemporary art forms that reflect students’ cultures and interests, and studying our arts ecosystem to determine how best to give students equal access to the art forms that inspire them,” Harris said in a SFUSD press release.
Managing the creation of the Arts Center over the next few years — a timetable for its construction has yet to be determined — will be a huge undertaking for Harris. The project, which was approved back in 2014, and will take over almost an entire city block and house both the Asawa SOTA and the Nourse Theater, still needs to raise much of its construction budget, which the district will do through an upcoming ballot measure and private donors.