CLEVELAND, Ohio – Tom Welsh, who has been at the Cleveland Museum of Art for the past 15 years, has been named managing director of the cultural organization Big Ears in Knoxville, Tennessee.

At the museum, Welsh booked and produced an acclaimed performing-arts series. Since 2009, he served as the creative architect of the annual Solstice Festival in Cleveland as well as City Stages, an annual, multi-faceted summer concert program. Welsh worked in the music industry in San Francisco prior to coming to Cleveland.

A musician, Welsh is originally from Philadelphia.

In 2011, the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Museum of Art collaborated for the first time on a large scale, presenting a series called Italian Masterworks: Musical performances taking place in the shadow of the museum’s galleries.

“That’s been a dream, to have the orchestra in here playing great music,” Welsh, a co-organizer of the three-concert series, said then. “Music is always a great way into this museum.”

The Big Ears Festival is scheduled to run March 30 through April 2, 2023. The New York Times has described the festival as “one of the world’s greatest music bashes.” Located across downtown Knoxville’s historic theaters, clubs and alternative performances spaces, the cultural gathering brings together innovators and influencers with younger artists.

This year, it was estimated that the four-day Big Ears festival infused more than $36 million into the regional economy.

The organization also named artist and cultural organizer Rachel Milford as community arts director.

“After several years of steady organizational growth, the 2022 festival this March was transformative in many ways. It was an extraordinary experience for those who participated, and its success signals remarkable potential for the future,” Big Ears founder and Executive Director Ashley Capps said in a news release. “We’re bringing Tom and Rachel to the team so that we can fully explore and realize that potential.”

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