Korff School alumna named interim executive director of Nebraskans for the Arts

Skyler Dykes
Skyler Dykes

Glenn Korff School of Music alumna Skyler Dykes (B.A. 2020) has been named interim executive director of Nebraskans for the Arts (NFTA). She replaces Doug Zbylut, who announced his retirement.

NFTA represents arts organizations and individual members across the state to advise policy makers, elected officials and community leaders on the importance of strong arts education in our schools, the economic impact of the arts in our communities and the benefits of pro-arts policies for Nebraska.

“Above anything else, it is an honor to be named interim director of Nebraskans for the Arts,” Dykes said. “2021 is likely to be a crucial year in the recovery and rehabilitation of Nebraska's arts sector. So, this year especially, it is humbling to be entrusted with leading NFTA's advocacy efforts. I also recognize that this position will present opportunities for me to grow professionally, meet arts leaders across the state, and further my knowledge of arts policy and arts funding mechanisms. I look forward to embracing those opportunities as they arise.”

One of her immediate priorities will be to coordinate Nebraska’s State Arts Advocacy Day on Wednesday, Feb. 17. (To register for this event, visit https://go.unl.edu/gv9m.)

“This event typically takes place at the State Capitol Building but, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, will take place via Zoom this year,” Dykes said. “The event will focus on briefing advocates on state and federal policies that would or will impact the arts and preparing advocates for small-group meetings with their State Senators.”

Dykes will also monitor and respond to bills in the Nebraska legislature that impact the arts.

“There are several bills in the Nebraska legislature this session that would increase funding for the arts or otherwise positively impact Nebraska's arts and culture sector,” she said. “These bills could be just a few of the bright lights at the end of the pandemic's dark tunnel that this sector desperately needs. So, I will be working closely with our Board and other arts leaders to ensure this 90-day session brings some ‘wins’ for arts and culture.”

Dykes first interacted with Nebraskans for the Arts as a junior at Nebraska, when she coordinated with them on the first Arts Advocacy Day at UNL. The event continued annually through March 2020.

“Each year I also participated in the Nebraska Arts Advocacy Day, along with a group of my peers, and in 2019, I joined Nebraskans for the Arts’ Board of Directors,” Dykes said.

One of her top priorities on the Board of Directors was to engage more young people in NFTA’s work.

“My generation is defined by its propensity for civic engagement, but young artists don't always think about their ‘artistry’ as being a part of their activism,” Dykes said. “As I consider ways I could leave my footprint on the organization, I think expanding NFTA's membership to include more students and emerging leaders is something I, as a young professional, will be uniquely situated to work on. I am lucky to be able to work with many brilliant arts educators through NFTA's Board of Directors and look forward to working with these individuals to brainstorm ways to involve younger artists in Nebraska's arts advocacy efforts.”

Dykes holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors and distinction in music and French from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. While an undergraduate, she was active in arts leadership on campus and earned a Yamaha Fellowship to participate in the inaugural class of the Eastman School of Music’s Leadership Academy.

With a background in musical theatre and classical voice, Dykes has spent her artistic administration career in the performing arts industry. She previously held positions at Omaha Performing Arts, the Lied Center for Performing Arts, and Wichita Grand Opera. In these roles, she coordinated outreach initiatives, assisted with curriculum development for PK-12 arts programs, and wrote a series of successful grants, receiving funding from local, state and national arts organizations.

Outside of the arts sector, Dykes most recently worked as a Community Ambassador at United Way of the Midlands, where she fundraised over a quarter of a million dollars for the organization.

NFTA is still in the process of solidifying a timeline for hiring a new Executive Director.

“Until then, I look forward to working alongside our Board of Directors to continue advancing NFTA’s membership, education initiatives and advocacy activities,” Dykes said.