UNCG Magazine

Creative in command

Meet Greensboro’s new leader for all things arts. 

Ryan Deal was hired last fall to lead Creative Greensboro, the city’s new office for arts and culture. 

The UNCG graduate has the perfect blend of corporate, nonprofit, and artistic experience. But the path to becoming Greensboro’s first-ever chief creative economy officer often felt long and winding.

Ryan was a music student at UNCG in the early 2000s. His dream was a career on Broadway, and in 2004, he left school after he was cast in the national touring company of “Cats.”

“I had achieved what I thought was my life’s purpose,” he said. “But I had never been so homesick in my life.”

He left the production and worked a variety of jobs in the corporate sector. Years later, he found his way back to the arts, and began climbing the ladder at the Charlotte Arts & Science Council. 

But UNCG was still on his mind. 

He had taken years of coursework, but never graduated. So Ryan returned to UNCG in 2016, needing just over a semester’s worth of credits. 

In December of 2018, he graduated with a bachelor of arts in music. 

Ryan is focused on policy-making that supports Greensboro’s creative community and positions the city as a top creative center both regionally and nationally. 

His efforts are even more important now, as our community faces a public health and economic crisis like we’ve never seen before. 

“The arts and creativity are where we go to for connection, healing, joy, imagination, and reflection – experiences that are needed now more than ever. As our nonprofit community and creative individual community lean into new and innovative ways of maintaining these values and contributions, I encourage us all to think about ways that we can continue to support the arts.”

I think one of the best kept secrets about the arts community in Greensboro may actually be the amount of immense talent that exists on the campuses.

– Ryan Deal

Story by Alyssa Bedrosian
Photography by Martin W. Kane

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