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story.lead_photo.caption Arts Center Executive Director Todd Herman is shown in this 2016 file photo. - Photo by John Sykes Jr.

The Arkansas Arts Center's executive director is leaving after seven years to take a job in North Carolina, creating a leadership vacancy as the downtown Little Rock museum is raising funds to help pay for a planned makeover.

Todd Herman, 51, informed museum staff Wednesday that he has accepted the role of chief executive at The Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C., where he'll start Aug. 20. His last day at the Arkansas Arts Center will be Aug. 10, said Merritt Dyke, president of the museum's board of directors.

“It’s as much a shock to us as it is to anybody,” Dyke said during an interview Wednesday evening, calling the exit “a confluence of an opportunity for him professionally, as well as a family situation.”

One of just three Arts Center directors in its 50 years, Herman’s exit occurs as a behind-the-scenes fundraising campaign is underway to pay for the museum’s planned $70 million makeover. Officials revealed the concept design in February, about two years after the public-private project launched.

Laine Harber, the Arts Center’s deputy director of operations and chief financial officer, will be the interim executive director, Dyke said.

A search committee will form to find a longer-term replacement, but those details are still being worked out, Dyke said.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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