Robert L. Lynch is president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. With more than 40 years of experience in the arts industry, he is motivated by his personal mission to empower communities and leaders to advance the arts in society, and in the lives of citizens.
In 1996, Mr. Lynch managed the successful merger of the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, where he had spent 12 years as executive director, with the American Council for the Arts to form Americans for the Arts. Under his 30 years of leadership, the services and membership of Americans for the Arts have grown to more than 50 times their original size. He has personally reached audiences in over 2000 locations spanning all 50 states and more than a dozen nations, with diverse constituencies ranging from Native American tribal gatherings to the U.S. Armed Forces in Europe to the President of the United States.
During his tenure at Americans for the Arts, Mr. Lynch has overseen six mergers including the Arts and Business Council, Inc. and the Business Committee for the Arts into Americans for the Arts. He has also created the Americans for the Arts Action Fund and its connected political action committee to establish arts-friendly public policy through engaging citizens to advocate for the arts and arts education.
Under his direction, Americans for the Arts has become a leader in documenting and articulating the key role played by the nonprofit arts and culture industry, and their audiences, in strengthening our nation’s economy. This has been done through its signature study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts community, Arts and Economic Prosperity IV, and the latest study measuring the arts in communities, The National Arts Index. He has also been instrumental in creating a strong portfolio of projects and information about the transformative value of the arts in non-arts areas such as civic dialogue, social problem solving and work with the Pentagon, West Point, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the arts and military.
Mr. Lynch currently serves on the boards of the Independent Sector, the Arts Extension Institute, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts Dean’s Council. He is currently serving a second term on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, a position appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. In 2014, he was awarded the Sidney R. Yates Award for Outstanding Advocacy on Behalf of the Performing Arts, and he was selected as one of the most influential executives in the nonprofit sector for the NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 for the third consecutive year.
Mr. Lynch earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and plays the piano, mandolin, and guitar. He lives in Washington, DC.