Arts Fort Worth will continue to be led by a familiar face. The nonprofit announced that its interim leader, Wesley Gentle, will serve as the group’s next executive director and president. 

Formerly the director of advancement at Arts Fort Worth, Gentle has served as the group’s interim leader for the past 10 months.

Gentle completed his undergraduate studies at Texas Christian University and has a master’s of music in opera performance from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Before joining Arts Fort Worth in 2018, Gentle worked for the Fort Worth Opera, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in addition to being a performing artist.

As executive director and president, he will lead the nonprofit that oversees the city’s public art program, distributes grants to support other arts organizations and manages the Fort Worth Community Arts Center at 1300 Gendy St.

“When everyone in Fort Worth has the resources, opportunities and empowerment to share their stories through art, and when everyone here can see part of their own story reflected in the art around them, then Arts Fort Worth has succeeded in our mission,” Gentle said in a press release. 

Board chair Carter Shackelford said the board conducted a national search, but throughout Gentle’s period as the group’s interim leader, they saw Gentle’s passion, dedication and ability to lead the organization into the future.

“After viewing the high level of work that Wesley has delivered since taking on the interim role, we no longer believe that an external candidate would add a greater value to the organization than what we have already seen from him,” Shackelford said in a statement.

Karen Wiley served in this role for seven years before announcing her retirement in April of 2022. 

Wiley led the organization as it rebranded to Arts Fort Worth from the Arts Council of Fort Worth and oversaw the development and implementation of programming to help local arts organizations weather the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gentle is stepping into this role as the organization celebrates its 60th anniversary.

“Fort Worth is a big city. We’ve got some work to do,” Gentle continued. “But our organization has a long history of changing our city for the better, and I know this community is filled with amazing people who are ready to partner with us to see that vision through.”

Gentle is also taking the reins the city of Fort Worth considers the future of the building the organization inhabits.

As the managing leaseholder, Arts Fort Worth is the primary tenant of 1300 Gendy St. and is responsible for maintaining the space for the other tenants, including other nonprofits and artist studios.

A 2022 report from Bennett Partners found that the building needs about $26 million in repairs to continue operating. In a recent public meeting, Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa said that number is likely higher now because of inflation.

In January, City Council appointed a task force to consider what the city should do with the building and to suggest potential future uses and tenants.

The task force will deliver its final report to the council on June 6. 

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...