Welcoming Emil Kang to EmcArts’ Board of Directors

Emil Kang has joined the EmcArts’ Board of Directors. Read more about Board on our website.


Emil Kang is the Professor of the Practice at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where he co-teaches courses in artistic entrepreneurship and the creative process. He also serves as University of North Carolina’s first Executive Director for the Arts, a senior administrative post created to help unify and elevate the performing arts at the University. In his first season, Kang introduced the University’s first major performing arts series, inaugurated in conjunction with the grand re-opening of the University’s main venue, Memorial Hall. After only three years, the University was invited to join the national consortium of Major University Presenters.

Prior to coming to Chapel Hill, Kang served as President and Executive Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) where he spearheaded a $125 million capital and endowment campaign, the largest in the Orchestra’s history. Kang has also held positions of Vice President of Operations for the DSO, Orchestra Manager for the Seattle Symphony, and Orchestra Management Fellow with the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL). As an Orchestra Management Fellow, Kang worked with symphony orchestras in San Francisco, Houston, and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Kang is a frequent speaker and has led numerous local, state and national outreach efforts. Kang has also chaired panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Full Frame International Documentary Film Festival, and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, among others. Kang was the youngest and first Asian-American to serve as president of a major symphony orchestra. Kang has been selected by The News & Observer (NC) as a “Tar Heel of the Week” and byCrain’s Detroit Business “40 under 40.” He is a graduate of Leadership Detroit, and has served on national boards including Henry Ford Hospital, United Neighborhood Centers of America and UNC School of Art’s Kenan Institute. Kang has also been a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and completed the Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management program at Harvard Business School. Born in New York City, and trained in violin studies from a young age, he holds a degree in Economics from the University of Rochester in New York.

Who and what inspires about the arts?

So many times in one’s career you start out as a consumer of art, and a lot of people are also practitioners of art. I find myself in a much more multi-dimensional in terms of my role with art, and much more now than I used to. Now I find my inspiration in much less obvious places. I’m inspired by helping artists achieve their vision. I find inspiration in the discovery of an idea or a new topic of inquiry. We’re always supporting the creation of new work, and I find that inspiring as well.

What attracted you to being an EmcArts board member? 

I think it was hearing Melissa Dibble, Managing Director and Richard Evans, President talk about this shift from working with institutions to working with communities that inspired me to join the Board. I really feel like that shift is an important one to make with intentionality and deliberateness. I feel like that is the direction we have to take in the future. The future of the arts in this country lies in communities and in individual artists- I feel like the days of five or six institutions trickling down to the rest of the community isn’t how it works any more.

Melissa Dibble is the Managing Director and Lead Facilitator at EmcArts, bringing over two decades of experience in cultural administration and development of new strategies in organizational innovation within the arts sector.