Rosemont Official To Lead City Arts Office

Posted: January 31, 1992

Diane Dalto, an official at Rosemont College, will become the new director of the city's Office of Arts and Culture. She was appointed by Mayor Rendell, for whom she has worked previously as an assistant and as a campaign fund- raiser.

She will replace Rita Roosevelt, whose last day on the job is today. Roosevelt will go to work for the Washington office of Laird & Associates of Houston, developing corporate philanthropy programs.

Dalto is currently the director of institutional advancement for Rosemont

College. Although the appointment has not yet been officially announced, Dalto confirmed yesterday, when asked by The Inquirer, that she had accepted the post.

In her new job she will report to City Representative Steven Kurtz.

A longtime friend of Rendell's, Dalto spent eight years as one of his deputies when he was Philadelphia district attorney from 1978 to 1986. She has been active as a Democratic fund-raiser, beginning in 1976 when she raised money for William Green's race for the U.S. Senate. She then worked for Rendell in his 1977 campaign for D.A., his 1986 campaign for governor and his 1987 campaign for mayor. She did not work in his 1991 mayoral campaign.

In 1988, Dalto served as a Pennsylvania fund-raiser and delegate organizer for presidential candidate Bruce Babbitt. Much of her job at Rosemont College has involved raising money from corporations and foundations.

She has also worked as a fund-raiser for Ralph Nader causes. She is vice president of the board of the Joseph J. Peters Institute, an outpatient psychiatric facility, mainly for young victims of sexual assault.

Dalto's experience in the arts, other than as a member of the audience, is limited to some acting at Plays and Players and acting classes at the Walnut Street Theater, she said yesterday.

The main reason for her appointment, she said, "is that I'm a fund-raiser and have government experience - two things that can best serve the arts community."

One of her main goals as arts and culture director will be to increase the facilities for live performances, she said.

Born in Philadelphia, Dalto grew up in Paoli and attended Lycoming College in Williamsport, studying psychology and theater. After graduating in 1973, she worked in the pre-trial services division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. She is married to F. Michael Medway, a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia. They live in the Overbrook Farms section of the city.

She will be the third occupant of the cultural post. Her immediate predecessor, Roosevelt, took over in December 1988, replacing Oliver Franklin. Before coming to Philadelphia, Roosevelt had served as division manager of the Austin, Texas, cultural affairs department.

During her tenure, the low-key Roosevelt developed a revised plan for the 1 percent-for-arts program for city construction, under which expenditures for new buildings must include money for art. She launched the mayor's awards to outstanding individuals in arts and culture. She put greater focus on the neighborhoods, establishing a neighborhood advisory council and supervising modest grants to neighborhood arts projects.

She was hampered throughout, however, by the city's worsening fiscal condition. One of her responsibilities, when she came, was to supervise Class 500 funds that were earmarked for arts and cultural organizations; within a year, City Council killed them. Roosevelt worked as a one-woman band, without staff or budget for the office and, many in the cultural community felt, without active support from former Mayor Goode.

Commenting yesterday on the appointment, Jerry Givnish, president of the board of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, said that the "really substantive thing" for the Rendell administration "is to put money in the cultural fund."

Unless they do that, he added, the arts and culture director's job will be ceremonial.

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