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Overture Center for the Arts announces Edward S. Holmes, PhD. Promoted to Senior Vice President of Equity and Innovation

  Overture Center for the Arts announces Edward S. Holmes, PhD. Promoted to Senior Vice President of Equity and Innovation

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Madison, Wis. — Sandra Gajic, president and CEO of Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts, and the Overture Center Foundation (OCF) Board of Directors announced today that Edward S. Holmes, PhD. has accepted a newly created position, senior vice president of equity and innovation.


“Dr. Holmes’ former position laid the groundwork for Overture’s next steps in our response to the Racial Equity Initiative implemented in 2016,” said Gajic. “His new role expands his responsibilities to implement programs that not only shine light on the issues but also use the visual and performing arts as a bridge to understanding and communications.”


In 2014, the OCF Board was moved to action after reading the Race to Equity Report issued by the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families and created Overture’s response, the Racial Equity Initiative. Holmes was hired in August 2016 as the center’s first director of diversity and inclusion.


The new position was created with the Board’s Executive Committee approval of a new role in the center’s equity, diversity and inclusion portfolio with the authority to oversee the creation and implementation of an organizational framework. 


Prior to coming to Overture, Dr. Holmes spent 38 years in community-based and public educational programs, including ten years as Principal at Madison West High School. While at this school, Dr. Holmes’ successes included:

  • Keeping West High School consistently ranked as one of the top public high schools in the State of Wisconsin for a decade through composite SAT and ACT scores, number of National Merit finalists and Presidential Scholars
  • Successfully implementing $1.2 million U.S. Department of Education Smaller Learning Communities grant
  • Closing achievement gaps between ethnic minority students and their white student counterparts over a three-year span while raising achievement scores of all student sub groups
  • Restructuring the school to create opportunities for 250 faculty and staff to engage with 2,200 students daily through the West High Lunch and Learn Program


“I am excited to move to the next phase of this journey at Overture in the role of senior VP of equity and innovation. It is a clear vote of confidence and deliberate message that Overture as an organization is committed to the ideals of equity, diversity and inclusion.” said Dr. Holmes. “While equity is the why and what, innovation is the how. We need to be intentional about utilizing new ideas, creative thoughts, new imaginations and methods in the application of better solutions that address both challenges and opportunities from multiple perspectives using ‎inter-disciplinary views and resources.”


Overture’s commitment to equity in Madison begins with its vision to provide “Extraordinary Experiences for All” and mission to “Support and Elevate Our Community’s Creative Culture, Economy and Quality of Life Through the Arts.”


As part of the initiative, Overture adopted four areas of focus:

  • Equity in Employment and Governance
  • Equity in Community Access
  • Equity in Programs and Education
  • Equity in Purchasing


Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin features seven state-of-the-art performance spaces and five galleries where national and international touring artists, ten resident companies, and hundreds of local artists engage nearly half a million people in educational and artistic experiences each year.


Contact Information:

Sarah Knab
(608) 258-4438 |
201 State Street | Madison, WI 53703

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