Palm Springs Art Museum CEO shares vision for future programming – Desert Sun

A small group of Coachella Valley residents got a taste of what’s next for the Palm Springs Art Museum on Monday night. 
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Adam Lerner, who assumed his position with the museum on July 15, shared plans for future programming with donors at an event held at the Annenberg Theater.
The biggest announcement was the return of the signature Cabaret 88 series after the museum canceled it in May.
Dr. Terri Ketover, one of the co-chairs, spoke at the beginning of the program, crediting the revival of the series to the level of community response and the arrival of Lerner in June. 
The Annenberg Theater Committee, organizers of Cabaret 88, supported the 430-seat Annenberg Theater at the museum by offering events and fundraising since 2003. 
Ketover said Lerner signed on as a co-chair for its upcoming sold-out season featuring performances by Broadway actor Hugh Panaro on Jan. 17-19, and Tony Award winners Beth Leavel on Feb. 14-16, Lillias White on March 21-23 and Santino Fontana on April 11-13. 
Co-chair David Zippel interviewed Lerner about his background, founding The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar, a contemporary arts institution in Lakewood, Colorado, and his tenure at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver from 2009 to 2019. 
Following his success at both institutions, Lerner said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be an art museum director anymore, but said he felt “called” to Palm Springs. 
“I saw a beautiful building with a great art collection, no debt, and a city that’s changing,” Lerner said. “I was like, ‘This is a place where I could really do something, and that’s what I felt.” 
Lerner said he just finalized an upcoming exhibition by Howard Smith, a Black U.S. Army veteran and artist who lived and worked in Finland
Lerner explained his previous success in Denver, where the museum’s audience is under 40, is based on event-based strategies to reach younger audiences and bring them into the museum, and the Annenberg Theater was one of the things that attracted him to the position. 
“People want their lives to have continuity and to have a relationship with the museum, and I feel that’s a great purpose we can have here – to be part of people’s intellectual and cultural growth, and their social life. I believe the way to do that is by having regular events,” Lerner told the audience. 
He later emphasized his position and said music and performance are fundamental to the mix of programming the museum offers to the community. 
During a Q&A with patrons, he was asked if there’s an outreach strategy to attract new members of the community and he replied the target audience is current residents in the Coachella Valley, including those who are “underrepresented.” 
“I come to this from a place of privilege, we need to be humble and reach out to audiences that are less privileged,” Lerner said. “That’s one part of us that currently lives here. But there’s also the second part, which is ‘What is the valley becoming?’ I feel like that’s very important to me as well.” 
Desert Sun reporter Brian Blueskye covers arts and entertainment. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bblueskye. Support local news, subscribe to The Desert Sun.