MOCAD Names Cara Courage Executive Director

February 3rd, 2022

After an eighteen-month search the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit today announced Cara Courage as its new executive director. Courage, most recently the head of London’s Tate Exchange, arrives at the museum following a lengthy search for the appropriate candidate to succeed Elysia Borowy-Reeder, who was fired in July 2020 amid allegations that shecreated a toxic workplace.

“I am honored to have been chosen for the role of executive director by the MOCAD team and board,” said Courage. “I am a passionate advocate for the positive role art can play in society, and believe firmly in the potential of museums to offer a shared space for all to reflect upon their lived experience and work to create the world they want to live in. I am so incredibly excited to be working with them to make MOCAD the best that it can be for the communities of Detroit, for artists, the Museum’s partners and collaborators and for all who come to visit.”

Borowy-Reeder, who had led the institution since 2013, was placed on leave after a group of former staffers and youth council members wrote an open letter to the museum board contending that they “experienced and witnessed various racist microaggressions, misgendering, violent verbal outbursts, misrepresentation of community partnerships, and the tokenization of marginalized artists, teen council members, and staff.” The group pointed to an  atmosphere of financial retaliation for employees who complained and a high turnover rate due to the stress and “mental anguish” caused by Borowy-Reeder. The ousted director on February 1 told the Detroit Newsthat the settlement agreement she signed with MOCAD said that she had been fired for no cause.

Thanks in part to her tenure at Tate Exchange, which is affiliated with Tate Modern, MOCAD’s new director arrives to her new post with deep and necessary experience in community engagement and experimental practices. “Courage brings 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,” said the institution.

Supporting Courage in her new role will be MOCAD veteran Marie Madison-Patton. Formerly the museum’s director of business operations, she was revealed today to be its new deputy director.