Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Kentuck names UAB graduate as new executive director

Tuscaloosa News

Shweta Gamble, University of Alabama in Birmingham graduate and design editor of the Tuscaloosa News, will become Kentuck Art Center’s executive director on August 15.

Gamble began her career in journalism at UAB’s student newspaper, where she was editor-in-chief, and since then has worked at a number of newspapers, including the Tuscaloosa News. After moving to Tuscaloosa, she became involved in the art community and has overseen events such as the Monster Makeover art show.

With the new position at Kentuck, Gamble will now be able to further extend her involvement with the Tuscaloosa art community.

“I’ve been going to their events for years now,” Gamble said. “It’s just such a great group of hardworking people there. It’s a gem in Tuscaloosa. I don’t know of any places here like this. You have resident artists and galleries and events that involve the whole community.”

Gamble’s background in communications and media helped Kentuck’s Board of Directors’ selection on the new executive director.

“I think it’s her intelligence and her warmth and her understanding and appreciation of Kentuck that combine to make me feel very good about her coming in as the director,” Jan Pruitt, current director of Kentuck, said. “I just think she’s got the skills and the sense, and also the personality, that will allow her to be really successful here.”

The board has allowed an overlap period of almost two months so Gamble can shadow Pruitt as she oversees the Kentuck Festival of the Arts in October.

“The current director, Jan Pruitt, she’s wonderful,” Gamble said. “I have the opportunity to train with her for two months, which I am excited about. I get to see how she does everything she does there.”

Pruitt, who is leaving Tuscaloosa and getting married in December, has served as Kentuck’s director since 2010.

“The Kentuck festival is in its 41st year,” Pruitt said. “It is a nationally respected festival, rated number one art festival in the state in Alabama Magazine, and American Style magazine ranked us among the top ten art festivals in the country. It’s a great thing, and its right here in the Tuscaloosa community. It’s something that we’re really proud of, and something that takes a lot of work to maintain.”

During her time as director, Gamble hopes she will be able to continue the legacy of the widely respected Kentuck Art Festival, as well as better connect the community to the arts.

“There is an art community that really supports the arts, but they’re disconnected,” Gamble said. “I want to use my skills to make the art community stronger and get them all connected. I think it’s obvious that Tuscaloosa has some diversity, and it’s really cool, and I would love to help it continue and grow.”

Gamble said she knows her vision of a more “vibrant community” and connected art community will take time, and she does not plan to make many changes during her first months as director.

“My vision is to make the community realize that Kentuck is more than a festival, it is a year round art center,” Gamble said. “I want it to be a place for [artists] to connect. I want people, when decorating their house, instead of buying from a chain store, to check out Kentuck and support local art. I want it to be a place where it encourages artists to keep working and have a platform.”

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