Damian Sinclair

Greater Reston Arts Center’s newest executive director looks to tap its potential.

Greater Reston Arts Center’s newest executive director

Photo by Aaron Spicer.

In its current state, you could walk right by the Greater Reston Art Center and not know it. But Executive Director Damian Sinclair has plans to change that. From within an office littered with knickknacks and posters, he plots the course for the non-profit’s future, a future that rides on the success of Reston Town Center.

But Sinclair isn’t sweating it. “This organization is just oozing with potential,” he says. Reston has a lot of room to grow. If all goes according to plan, the Town Center will receive its own metro stop in 2018, bringing extra business—and hopefully more people—with it.

“Here we are … with a metro station coming … we are in [one of] the richest county in the country … and we have all the potential in the world to be great.”

But the metro stop is just one piece of the puzzle, and although he says business isn’t bad right now, Sinclair believes the art center is at a crossroads. “We have to reinvent what we’re doing as an organization,” he says.

Sinclair took the reins last February during what he called a “rebirth life cycle.” It’s an important time for the arts center. September marked their 40th anniversary in existence. He believes that in order to survive, things do need to change, and in a big way.

Part of his vision includes bringing in some big, recognizable acts such as D.C. native and celebrated hip-hop artist DJ Spooky. “We need to bring in … an artist that somebody from Washington, D.C. would hop on the metro and come out to see,” says Sinclair.

The other part of his plan is rooted more in common sense: longer hours, more visible marketing. “People come to the town center and have no idea that we’re here. … How do I peel off two or three people from each bar? That’s what we need to be doing.”

Sinclair—who’s worked at Arena Stage, Wooly Mammoth and co-founded the Capital Fringe Festival in D.C.—might just be the right guy to shatter the status quo. Instead of delegating from his office, Sinclair prefers to immerse himself in the action. “Every minute at my desk is a minute wasted,” he declares.

On a normal day, one might find him schmoozing with arts enthusiasts in D.C., judging local dance shows or hosting in-house events. Sinclair is all business, but plays the part of the showman, too.

“I live in the future. I live in vision. I live in ideas. … I’m kind of like a P.T. Barnum.” And although it will be a formidable challenge, Sinclair is ready to meet that challenge head-on. “If we’re building something big, something bold … we’re only competing with those that are thinking big and bold.” —Tim Regan

(November 2013)