by Pat Filer, AKCHO Awards Selection Committee Chair
Like Charles Payton and Eric Taylor, his predecessors at 4Culture, Brian Carter understands profoundly the challenges facing historical societies in our community. He brings patience, compassion and a sharp mind to the job. As shown in his Carter’s efforts spearheading the King County Heritage Report: Understanding the Field in 2017, he recognizes how professionally gathered and interpreted data supports moving the heritage field forward.
The report identifies areas of opportunity within the heritage field and lays out a roadmap for how 4Culture heritage staff can strengthen, diversify, and better target the resources it provides to heritage organizations and practitioners through the county. Academic partners, heritage practitioners, umbrella organizations, and civic partners all helped process and shape the data into eight key findings: diversity, equity, and inclusion; economic impact; volunteer support; visibility; employment pipeline; collection staff; financial stability; and audience evaluation.
The King County Heritage Report has already helped 4Culture’s heritage staff create new programs such as a Rural Internship Program and a professional development mini-grant. The report was printed for organizations to use when making a case about strengths, needs or opportunities they may have. As such, it is a critical advocacy tool for the heritage field.
In March 2016, Brian J. Carter joined the 4Culture staff to lead the Heritage Program following the retirement of Eric Taylor. He is only the third person in 35 years to lead the program. Carter first came to the heritage community’s attention when he served as the Deputy Director and Head Curator at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) in Seattle. He joined 4Culture’s Heritage Advisory Committee in 2008 and served on that body until offered the position of Museum Director of the Oregon Historical Society in 2012. Returning to Seattle in 2014, he became Director of Interpretation at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Brian holds an undergraduate degree in history from Stanford University and a master’s in museum studies from the University of Washington.
Within less than three years at 4Culture, Carter’s recognition of a need for a field-wide survey and how it could become an advocacy tool for the entire heritage community are signs of his dynamism and support for the field. He continues the strong tradition of field service work for which Charles Payton was so adamant.