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McLeod was 'amazing storyteller,' champion of the arts

on Tue, 07/19/2016 - 17:26

On July 18, 2016 New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources Commissioner Van McLeod passed away at Concord Hospital. First confirmed as commissioner in 1992 he was, as he would say, “the longest-serving commissioner in captivity.” More important than his long tenure though, was his deep commitment to the arts in our state.

Van McLeod was a tireless champion for art and culture in all forms. The arts are an economic engine that drive this state—I can’t count how many times I heard Van say that over the 17 years I worked for him—and he was the champion of all the people who make that true. Creating opportunities for live theater through grants made to historic theaters; unwavering support for the creation and development of the Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library; and always making time to talk to anyone who had an idea about how to bring art and culture to the Granite State are just a few of the ways that Van strengthened New Hampshire arts. He was an amazing storyteller, and as I think about his many stories I realize how much I learned from him about being an advocate for the literary arts. The power of those stories to bring people together, sometimes people who were very far apart, was an inspiration.

New Hampshire’s arts community is deeply saddened by the loss of Commissioner McLeod, but we are also strengthened by the thousands of people he taught and inspired who will continue his work to make sure the arts remain at the heart of New Hampshire.

--Mary Russell, director of the Center for the Book at the NH State Library and member of the NHWP's board of trustees.