William Lewis, who helped bring Bluegrass Festival to Raleigh, is leaving PineCone

William Lewis, who was instrumental in bringing the International Bluegrass Music Association’s conference and bluegrass festival to Raleigh, is leaving his position as executive director of PineCone.

But he’s not going far.

The Town of Cary announced Thursday that Lewis will become the town’s new Cultural Arts Manager. He will succeed Lyman Collins, who recently retired after 20 years of working for Cary.

Lewis, one of four finalists in 2018 The News & Observer’s Tar Heel of the Year, said he is “thrilled to join the team responsible for creating unique, meaningful and memorable arts experiences every day for residents and visitors alike,” according to a news release from Cary.

Lewis has been with the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music since 2004 and has been executive director since 2008. The organization seeks to preserve and promote traditional forms of music and the performing arts. In addition to the Bluegrass Festival events, it stages other concerts, youth music programs and more throughout the year.

“We wish William Lewis all the best as he starts his next chapter with the Town of Cary. We are grateful for his over 15 years of service to PineCone, including 11 years as Executive Director,” said Todd Hemphill, president of PineCone, in a statement on Thursday.

“We also are happy that he will continue to make his personal and professional home in the Triangle,” Hemphill’s statement said. “His connection to PineCone remains strong and will continue to benefit our relationship not only with Cary’s arts environment, but the Triangle’s vibrant cultural scene.”

Lewis has been a board member of the International Bluegrass Music Association, which brought its conference and festival to Raleigh in 2013 after years in Nashville. Since then, the weeklong event has brought in more than 1 million visitors and more than $61 million in spending to Raleigh, according to a previous story in The News & Observer.

Lewis is in charge of local programming for the festival, which includes producing the Wide Open Bluegrass events. That part of the festival features music and free events throughout downtown Raleigh.

The festival will stay in Raleigh through 2021.

We are very fortunate to bring on William to guide our incredibly successful cultural arts program,” said Doug McRainey, Cary’s director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources. “The impact these programs and facilities have on the Cary community is an important priority, and we look forward to William joining the team.”

Meanwhile, Collins’ leadership pushed forward projects such as building the Booth Amphitheatre and renovating The Cary theater, according to the town. Booth Amphitheatre attracts major national acts and is a home for the North Carolina Symphony’s Summerfest as well as the popular Chinese Lantern Festival in December.

Lewis will be in charge of all art events and festivals, such as the annual Lazy Daze festival, as well as Booth Amphitheatre, according to the town’s release.

He will begin his new role Aug. 1, with a salary of $106,000.

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Trent Brown covers the Town of Cary and other odds and ends. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 and is a Collegiate Network fellow.