Belinda Tate's rise to executive director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts even surprises herself. "I never expected to have a career in the arts," she tells WMUK's Earlene McMichael on WestSouthwest today, her two-year anniversary at the KIA. "While an undergraduate at Yale, I was a math major -- applied math with a concentration in operations research." Then she got a job in the Finance Department at the Yale Center for British Art in her sophomore year. What happened next shows the power of mentors, of which she'd had several while in college.
"I would ask a question and that would lead to an assignment somewhere in the building," recalls Tate, laughing, who says she's always been a curious person. "I really got to know many different parts of that institution. The director there saw something in me .... and he simply felt that this was a career that I needed to pursue."
In this half-hour version of a shorter interview that originally aired on Aug. 26, the Winston-Salem, N.C., native talks about the early artistic influences in her life as well as her emphasis on community collaboration and nontraditional programming as an arts administrator and her accomplishments at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and future plans there.
Prior to the KIA, Tate had been director for 15 years of the Diggs Gallery in Winston-Salem, one of the country's top galleries for African-American art.