Gerard takes helm of BIFF

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BELOIT - The Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) has named Artistic Director Greg Gerard as the organization's executive director.

Gerard replaces outgoing executive director and board President Marty Densch, who will be stepping off the board although he intends to remain heavily involved in festival volunteerism.

"I'm thrilled for Greg. He certainly earned and deserves it. The board is elevating him to that position at my suggestion. He's the perfect person for the job. The 2019 BIFF was one of the best BIFFs we have ever done in so many ways, especially artistically. It was a financially successful festival and audiences were there," Densch said.

Serving this past year as artistic director, Gerard was responsible for overseeing the selection and programming of films as well as the care and feeding of hundreds of visiting filmmakers. He is credited with the creation and success of the popular BIFF Year 'Round program on Wednesday evenings and has been the force behind Kids at BIFF and several other community outreach programs, including Help Yourself Films and the Society for Learning Unlimited.

Densch praised Gerard for raising credibility of the festival among filmmakers and commended him for this year's panel on women in film. A Wisconsin native, Gerard has 30 years of experience in the music and entertainment industry.

In early August, former Executive Director Max Maiken left the position to further pursue his education as part of the MBA program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"He left suddenly and we had to put together a management structure to get the February 2019 festival up and running," Densch said.

With knowledge about the mechanics of BIFF fundraising, Densch said he slid over from president of the board to executive director and retitled Gerard as artistic director. Densch said it was always his intention to do the role on only an interim basis.

Densch said he worked very closely with Gerard and discovered how well Gerard was doing with his duties.

"When the festival was over and numbers were in, I proposed to the board that I would withdraw from the position and recommend to make Gerard executive director," Densch said.

In addition to Gerard's promotion, Densch said BIFF will create a position of development director to be responsible for fundraising and relationships with sponsors.

Although Densch is stepping away from the board, he will remain an active volunteer, supporter and promoter of the festival.

Gerard said will be working to find new activities and a fresh look for the festival's 15th season. He wants to put together a multi-year plan for the festival's sustainability. Those with the festival have been working to take another complete analysis of how festival is running and determining how to make it more sustainable in order to grow it.

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