The former head of the Texas Book Festival will now lead the Texas Cultural Trust.
Heidi Marquez Smith takes over as executive director at the statewide arts advocacy group after the departure of Jennifer Ransom Rice.
“As a long-time, passionate advocate for literacy and the arts, I am thrilled to be part of an organization that promotes the vital role of the arts in education and actively supports our state’s many talented artists and educators,” Marquez Smith says. “I look forward to advancing the work of the Trust to build awareness of the quantifiable impact of art in the classroom and the Texas economy, and the important role of the arts in building a competitive workforce for the future of our state.”
Most recently a consultant with her own firm, Marquez Smith is actively involved in the leadership of the Texas Lyceum, St. David’s Foundation, Dell Children’s Trust and Texas Book Festival. She also volunteers at Eanes Elementary School, Hill Country Middle School, Eanes Education Foundation, Pop-Up Birthday, LBJ Presidential Library and the city of Rollingwood.
Perhaps most impressively, she served as Special Assistant to the President for Cabinet Liaison under President George W. Bush.
It takes quite a diplomat to run the Trust, which hands out the Texas Medal of Arts in a grand biennial ceremony; directly promotes arts education; and meanwhile attempts to convince Texas legislators to support dollars for the arts. Recently, that august body reduced funding by 28 percent, which means that soon only $6 million will be spent by the state each year on the arts. By way of contrast, the city of Austin alone spends $12 million.