Edgar Arceneaux steps down as head of Watts House Project
The Watts House Project announced Saturday that Edgar Arceneaux "has graciously stepped aside" from his role as executive director. The announcement came two days after the online publication of a Los Angeles Times report on problems behind the scenes at the nonprofit. Arceneaux, an artist who founded the community redevelopment project in 2009, had served as its leader and most visible spokesperson.
The group's new leader is Will Sheffie, who was hired last year as managing director to oversee day-to-day operations. Board president Channing Henry distributed the announcement, dated April 7, by email:
The statement begins: "As of today, Watts House Project (WHP) is pleased to announce that Will Sheffie, our Managing Director, will take over the organization’s leadership, filling the role of Executive Director. Edgar Arceneaux, WHP Founder and current Board member, has graciously stepped aside as Executive Director while the organization takes measures to effectively address the challenges it has faced in its recent growth. We remain committed to working with local and internationally known artists to maintain the artistic vision of the organization, and are devising an Artistic Director role that will help lead WHP in defining a replicable, sustainable model for arts-based community redevelopment.
The statement ends on a future-looking note: "Sheffie, the Board of Directors, and the Watts House Project Staff embark to regain the community’s trust and rebuild the partnerships most important to the mission of the organization: those with the residents and community."
Photo: Edgar Arceneaux, founding director of Watts House Project, right, with Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, on a visit to East 107th Street earlier this year. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times