A man with a track record as a museum curator...a fundraiser...and record store owner has been chosen as the new President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. ideastream's David C. Barnett reports that Clevelander Gregory Harris was chosen after a national search.
Current Rock Hall President Terry Stewart recruited Greg Harris to be the Rock Hall's head of Development four years ago. At the time, Harris held a similar post at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, where he had also done curatorial work. And it didn't hurt that he owned an independent record shop in Philadelphia and had played in garage bands as a kid.
Board chair Bill Rowley says hundreds of candidates from across the country applied for the job, but in the end they went local for their pick of the person to run the Rock Hall. At each stage of the selection process, Harris was the unanimous choice --- even when it came to a vote from the New York-based Hall of Fame Foundation, headed by Joel Peresman.
JOEL PERESMAN: It was interesting how things kept coming back to Greg, and Greg kept rising higher and higher in the process. We're thrilled that it worked out this way. We know it's great to always have somebody from within come up and be able to take the reins and do it.
In an era when many area arts and cultural institutions have taken some major hits due to a depressed economy, Harris says the Museum has a proven track record of earning income through selling tickets and merchandise, among other money makers.
GREG HARRIS: We've been able to weather what's been happening in the economy a lot better than many places, because we haven't been living off of endowed funds that have been hit hard at some of those bigger places. I think we're in a very good position.
The most recent accounting reports that the Rock Hall generates over 100 million dollars a year.
Retiring Rock Hall CEO Terry Stewart says that he'll remain in Cleveland an act as an advisor to the museum for the near term. Greg Harris officially steps into Stewart's shoes as leader of the band on January 1st.