The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Focus on the Arts

April 29, 2012

Executive director keeps facilities solvent

Gary Moyer, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art’s executive director, is using his business background to keep art solvent.

He has been in charge of the museum’s financial side since January 2008.

Moyer grew up in Ebensburg and attended St. Francis University, where he received a degree in English.

He then worked in the university’s administrative office, serving as director from 1974 to 1979.

After receiving a master’s degree in labor relations and personnel, Moyer worked for the Dresser Clark Division of Fortune 500 company Dresser-Rand for five years.

He returned to Pennsylvania to work for Penelec and its various incarnations from 1980 to 2002, leaving as regional manager for human resources.

While at Penelec, he worked toward his master’s degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Moyer then worked for Fleetwood Folding Trailers in Somerset for five years as human resources manager.

“Then, I had the opportunity to work for SAMA,” said Moyer, who also has taught business administration at St. Francis as an adjunct professor.

“I have more of a business background, but I’m finding out that museums are not for profit, but are looking to the business sector for leadership.”

With Scott Diamond as curator with an art history background, Moyer believes a balance can be struck.

“What he lacks in business, I can give, and what I lack in art, Scott can give,” Moyer said.

From SAMA’s headquarters in Loretto, Moyer oversees all the museum’s satellite locations.

Each site has its own coordinator – Tina Lehman in Johnstown, Barbara Hollander in Altoona and Sommer Toffle in Ligonier.

“Overall, I stabilize the museum’s financial position and strategic planning,” Moyer said.

“The satellite system makes us different from other museums. We have one museum with four sites, providing more access to a diverse, rural population.”

The Loretto museum’s summer gala has been held for more than 30 years, and is SAMA’s most successful fundraiser.

The gala has garnered the reputation of being one of the region’s most sophisticated annual social events and has attracted a who’s who list of politicians, celebrities and community and business leaders.

Director emeritus Michael M. Strueber plans to co-chair the 34th annual gala on July 21.

“It was known as the finest social in western Pennsylvania,” Strueber said.

“I want to try to bring it back to its former glory.”

Tickets are $175 per person, and reservations must be received by July 17.

Within the past 10 years, the museum’s three satellite facilities have created their own signature fundraising events.

A spring Garden Party will flower June 2 at the Ligonier museum.

The Art of Wine and Fashion fundraiser will bring a big-city atmosphere to the region Nov. 2 at the Altoona museum.

A newly established dinner fundraiser at the Johnstown museum combined art, music and international gourmet cuisine, but it was canceled last year with no immediate plans for restarting.

“I’m struggling with sustaining a gala for Johnstown,” Moyer said.

“Night of Distinction,” a special program designed to celebrate the museum’s trustee emeritus inductees, was held Saturday at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto.

Betty Gamble, Jeanne Gleason, Edgar Dean Nelson and Shirley Pechter were honored for their years of commitment to the museum.

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