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Head of Tucson's MOCA leaving museum

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The head of MOCA Tucson is leaving the downtown art space after just one year in the post. Samuel Ireland, the contemporary art museum's executive director, will step down at the beginning of September.

Ireland was named MOCA's director at the beginning of September 2015. He had been the interim head of the organization since last May, after former director Anne-Marie Russell took a position in Florida.

Over Ireland's year-long tenure, the nonprofit group "saw the highest annual revenues to date," according to a press release about his departure. Admissions doubled, membership was up 65 percent, and MOCA received large programmatic grants from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

"It has been a true honor to lead MOCA during this transition period and I am proud of what we have all accomplished together," Ireland said in the release. "MOCA is an integral part of both the revitalization of Downtown Tucson and the spirit of our community, and we are all better off because of it."

Ireland will "pursue independent curatorial and art-related business projects," the release said.

"We thank Sam, who has led MOCA through a year of innovative programming and exhibitions," said MOCA Board President Courtney Johnson. "We will miss him, but we have a strong, talented team that will ensure MOCA continues to be the region's lively center of contemporary art."

An executive committee of the board — Johnson, Vice President Joanne Stuhr, Treasurer Michael Guymon, and immediate past president Randi Dorman — will conduct a search for a new director, and take over running MOCA in the interim.

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