Diane Mello named new Madera County Arts Council executive director

Diane Mello has recently been selected to fill a position that laid empty for three years - the executive director for the Madera County Arts Council and Circle Gallery.

“I have found myself in the fortunate position of engaging with the Board of Directors and staff, who have not only been dedicated with their commitments to team service, but thoroughly engaged with each and every aspect of operations, programs, arts promotion of local and surrounding communities, and maintaining the council through all aspects of development,” Mello, hired Oct. 15, explained.

An Oakhurst resident since 1995, Mello’s last appointment was as curatorial consultant for the Center for Creativity and Arts at Fresno State University. She has an extensive art background, earning a Bachelors of Art cum laude in art from Fresno State, studying fine art and art history at Long Beach State, and illustration at Academy of Art in San Francisco. She participated in the J. Paul Getty Museum “Learning to Look” educational program, and has developed such skills as commercial art, art education and historical research. As a community-oriented volunteer, she has served on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Museum of the Sierra in Oakhurst for more than 10 years, and was involved in many aspects of the museum development from its inception.

“With my curatorial experience, education, a broad range of commercial art and fine art experience, as well as community volunteer experience,” Mello continued, “I feel prepared to offer leadership and a perspective of first-hand experience as an artist and arts administrator. One of my goals will be to collaborate with all of our cultural and performing arts opportunities among Madera County and the surrounding communities.”

Mello joins the council on the heels of an Elaine Secara Trust endowment for $2.5 million to help with the construction and maintenance of a Madera County Center for the Arts on Yosemite Avenue, across from the Historic courthouse.

In existence for 30 years, the council has operated with just two staff and 16 board members since 2011. With Mello now on-board, the staff and board will collaborate on continuing to oversee the Circle Gallery, Art for the Schools Program, community partnerships, and fund-raising to support existing and new programs.

“This is an organization with passion and a desire to flourish coupled with a record of sustainability, and I am privileged to be a part of their team,” Mello said. “I envision growth and collaboration of partnerships without separation between the artist and the community as we continue to engage and serve a diverse, intergenerational population full of rich culture, and an excellence for the arts and performing opportunities.”