Executive Director Cara Courage Out at Detroit’s MOCAD

April 29th, 2022

Cara Courage, announced in February as the next executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, will not lead the institution after all, according to the Detroit Metro Times. No reason was given for the parting of ways, with a museum spokesperson noting, “MOCAD’s Executive Committee can confirm that the museum has parted ways with Dr. Cara Courage as executive director. After lengthy conversations, [the Executive and Search] Committees decided to rescind their offer of employment. They wish Courage all the best in her future endeavors, and they thank her for her service to the museum.”

Courage, who previously headed London’s Tate Exchange, had been tapped for the executive director post following an eighteen-month search. On her hiring, MOCAD officials touted Courage’s “worldly leadership and expertise from the arts sector with a specialization in collaborative placemaking and activist arts, which she will use to center Detroit’s communities in developing MOCAD as a site for positive social, diverse and equitable change.”

Prior to the announcement of Courage’s hiring, Laura Hughes since December 2020 had served as the institution’s interim director in the wake of the firing of executive director Elysia Borowy-Reeder amid allegations that she created a toxic workplace over the course of her seven-year tenure there. The museum has not revealed a permanent replacement for Courage but has said that a search is underway and that the position will be modified, with local candidates considered. Marie Madison-Patton, who was promoted from director of business operations at MOCAD to deputy director of the museum at the time of Courage’s hiring, will provide leadership for the institution in the interim.

“MOCAD’s Executive Committee and Search Committee are taking immediate action to move forward with a search process for a new executive leader that aligns with MOCAD’s institutional values; will lead it into an innovative, equitable, and inclusive future; and will serve Detroit by connecting it with the global art world, presenting the best of contemporary art,” affirmed MOCAD’s spokesperson. “The committees will work together to redefine this role to be more strongly focused on the artistic vision of the organization.”

Correction: Marie Madison-Patton is currently providing leadership for MOCAD but has not been promoted to interim director, as this article previously stated.