The mission of the Arts Council is to nurture and strengthen the artistic, cultural, and educational quality of our community and the surrounding area. It does so by having art galleries, classes, and various forms of entertainment to celebrate the arts. Carol Sales, the CEO of the Arts Council, which includes The Kemp Center for the Arts and The Forum, has contributed her years of wisdom and experience to this treasured community non-profit.
“Every season of my life has been fun,” Sales said. “I love to see the eyes of people as they progress. That was really stimulated by my time at Texas Women’s University,” added Sales.
Carol Sales graduated with an undergraduate degree with a double major in Fashion Merchandising and Clothing and Textiles from TWU. She later explained how she spent the first 20 years of her career divided between being in the apparel industry, an educator, and a mom. Sales taught at Bauder Fashion College in Arlington and worked in the apparel industry during that time, as well. “I loved managing Richard Brooks Fabrics, a couture fabric house,” said Sales, who has always been a ‘production’ person. “I worked behind-the-scenes for fashion shows for all the couture exhibitions at the Dallas Market Center. I worked under the Kim Dawson Agency. So, my full-time gig was with Richard Brooks Fabrics, and I did production for the agency as secondary income,” she explained. “At that time the apparel industry was flying high in Dallas. It was a lot of fun.” Carol then was a stay-at-home-mom of three, but when her children were old enough to enter school, she and her husband, Terry, decided to move back to Wichita Falls. Terry and Carol wanted to live and raise their children in a smaller community, according to Sales. However, there were difficulties that came with the move.
“I must give him a lot of credit for his patience. He [Terry] made the decision to drive back and forth to Fort Worth and Dennison five days a week so we could be here,” Carol said. “He is a physical therapist. He works with professional athletes and could not do that in this area,” she said. “I will always be thankful to my husband for the opportunity to move back to the region. I will always treasure it and the ability work for a family business.” The family business is the Berend Brothers on Jacksboro Highway. Carol managed inventory control, marketing, and advertising. Sales started her relationship with the Arts Council by being a vendor in the first Home and Garden Festival.
“My boss told me I was going to be on the board of the Home and Garden Festival, so it happened,” she said with a grin. “In 2006, I started part-time as a promoter for the festival. My first job was 20 hours a week. I guess over the years, different opportunities became available and I took them. I went to 30 hours and then 40 hours.” Carol worked at The Forum at that time with an emphasis in marketing.
In 2012, she was the Director of The Kemp, now known as the Kemp Center for the Arts. She, alongside another director of The Forum, was under the umbrella of a CEO. Carol took over the CEO position in January of 2017. Through various changes in structure, The Kemp Center for the Arts and The Forum are no longer two separate facilities in management as of 2018.
“Seeing the growth of my family and the growth of the arts has been really exciting. What do you say when you get to this stage of your career?” Sales asked. “I don’t feel like it is anything I did to get here. There is nothing I did that can be a claim to fame. I do think strongly that the different opportunities I have been given – from the apparel industry, working for a family business, to working for non-profit – have given me a tremendous foundation and opportunity to see progress,” she said gratefully.
Unfortunately, Carol Sales hesitantly announced a career change starting in 2023. She anticipates new leadership taking over by then.
“I don’t know what my career change will be. I really don’t have a vision. Each season of my life has been different and none of them have been planned. But, it is all interesting and exciting,” she shared.
Written by Cindy Kahler Thomas