The Carnegie Community Arts Center has a new face at the top. Near the top, anyway.
Brian Covert, a local artist, has been named assistant director of the North Main Street hub for the arts in Somerset.
"I was impressed with him from the first time I met him," said Diane Giddens, Carnegie director. "I've watched him act, heard him on the radio, and I just like him."
Covert is the man behind Art by Brian, his business in which he provides art instruction, and has worked on numerous murals around the county. He is also a radio personality with WTLO, is a member of the Watershed Arts Alliance board, and is a frequent actor in productions by Flashback Theater Co.
"He's exactly the perfect fit for the Carnegie because he's an artist, he's got a business degree, and he can learn the arts organization from the ground level," said Giddens. "The Carnegie is a big organization now. We don't have one single space left. There are all artists in the building and he knows most of them."
Covert said that Giddens contacted him about the job a couple of weeks ago, and said that she needed him as someone she could trust -- and, he recalled her noting, a "leader" and "gifted artist," compliments he was honored to receive.
"I'm excited, a little nervous," he said. "I'm hoping I can help turn the Carnegie into something everybody can enjoy."
Covert said there were two main goals he wanted to accomplish in the position: to "think outside the box," and to "get more people" into the Carnegie.
"It's a beautiful building," he said. "It would be a shame if it was just there going to waste."
Giddens also has her eye on the future. Giddens had been with the Carnegie from the beginning more than a decade ago, but left her position as director in 2014 to address health issues. She returned this past spring, however, and took back over a facility that was in a state of flux and in need of a guiding hand.
However, Giddens will not remain with the Carnegie forever -- and knows that it needs someone who loves it just as much as she does to one day fill her shoes.
"(Covert) is someone who I think can be the face of the Carnegie going forward," said Giddens. "The Carnegie is still in transition. As part of reorganizing the Carnegie, I decided after all these years that I need an assistant director, and I think he's a fit for it. I had never had an assistant director before."
It's a volunteer position, but one in which Covert will have flexibility over his hours to fit into his busy schedule. Giddens also noted that Covert will be teaching art classes from there in the Carnegie, which will put him close to the action on a regular basis. Covert said he expects to have moved all his students over there and to be ready to teach by next Friday.
Don't expect the reins to be handed off anytime particularly soon, said Giddens; Covert still has to learn all about the Carnegie "from A to Z," and Giddens still has a lot left she wants to do.
However, "he can allow me some time away from here, and as he learns more and more about the Carnegie, he can take on more and more responsibility," she said. "At some point, I hope to turn it over to him. I think he would be an excellent choice to take the Carnegie into the next phase."