Advancing Macomb hires Anton Art Center director

Interim director appointed at Anton

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published January 9, 2024

 Peggy DiMercurio is the interim director at the Anton Art Center.

Peggy DiMercurio is the interim director at the Anton Art Center.

Photo by Dean Vaglia


MOUNT CLEMENS — About a quarter of a mile separates the Anton Art Center from Advancing Macomb’s offices in Mount Clemens. The short walk down Macomb Place only takes a few minutes at a solid clip, but few people’s trips match the magnitude of Phil Gilchrist’s.

The executive director of the Anton Art Center for eight years, Gilchrist has traded his spot at one nonprofit for another to become the executive director of Advancing Macomb.

“I am pretty excited for this opportunity,” Gilchrist said. “I have long watched the work Advancing Macomb has been doing and have been really excited about their support for nonprofit organizations. Having been a small nonprofit director myself, the work they have been approaching has been really interesting to me. I think there is a ton of opportunity for the organization and I’m really looking forward to getting into the work here and seeing what kind of a difference we can make in Macomb County.”

The end of Gilchrist’s 14 years the art center was announced in early December 2023, originally coming as an email from the Anton Art Center before Advancing Macomb confirmed the move days later.

“It was bittersweet to leave,” Gilchrist said. “I had actually been there for a long time. My own history with that organization goes back to when I was a kid taking classes in the lower level. It was a bittersweet end. This new opportunity is a really exciting one I am grateful for, but leaving a place where I’ve spent so much of my time can be difficult.”

Gilchrist’s role at Advancing Macomb will involve all aspects of the organization’s operations, from overseeing programs and finances, to setting and executing strategic plans, to the organization’s marketing and public relations communications.

In the same statement announcing Gilchrist’s departure, the Anton Art Center announced its board selected Peggy DiMercurio, currently the center’s education and community engagement manager, to serve as interim director. DiMercurio has been with the Anton Art Center since 2018 when it was looking for an education coordinator.

“I was doing the same kind of work for a local dance company, and I thought it would be a good fit, so I came in and interviewed and was hired,” DiMercurio said.

While the news of Gilchrist’s departure was seemingly sudden, DiMercurio says the small size of the Anton Art Center’s staff has given her the experience to direct the center while the board searches for a permanent candidate.

“When Phil announced he was moving on to a new position, there was talk between the board and ourselves on which way we wanted to go with this,” DiMercurio said. “The board had faith that we could keep things moving forward through this process because we were so involved with all of the programs and the day-to-day that we had people in place to be able to run this interim.”

DiMercurio said it was “a natural move” taking on the interim director duties, being a full-time employee of the Anton Art Center, and that it put her in the position of working on events and with Gilchrist.

“I’m comforted in knowing that Peggy DiMercurio is definitely capable and I’m confident that the organization is in good hands now that I’m gone,” Gilchrist said.

DiMercurio expressed interest in the executive director position herself, though she said she needed to see the board’s expectations for the role before applying.

“I have a strong love for this community and the art center, and I really enjoy working with all of the families and instructors and volunteers and all of the people, and I want to make sure I am in the position where I can do the most good for the art center,” DiMercurio said.

Until the director’s seat is filled, life will go on at the Anton Art Center. The center is getting ready to showcase the best Michigan artists have to offer in its 51st Michigan Annual gallery and is currently accepting entries for various shows and exhibits to be held throughout 2024.

As for the two nonprofits, both Gilchrist and DiMercurio are certain the Anton Art Center and Advancing Macomb will work together on related projects.

“We have very similar missions and definitely want to keep things moving forward,” DiMercurio said.