With the naming today of November Paynter as the director of programs for Toronto's Museum of Contemporary Art, the unpredictable evolution of the museum's leadership took another turn. Paynter's appointment comes seven months after Chantal Pontbriand left MOCA as its first-ever chief executive officer. Pontbriand's surprising departure had occurred less than eight months after she assumed the newly created position.
Paynter joins MOCA from SALT, a Turkish not-for-profit institution based in Istanbul and Ankara. British-born and educated at the Royal College of Art in London, Paynter was the founding associate director of research and programs at SALT from 2011 to 2016.
She arrives at her new post in Toronto with the museum in the midst of significant transition. The opening of MOCA's new home (in rented quarters at Tower Automotive Building, a century-old former factory in the city's west end) has been delayed from the spring of this year to the fall.
According to a press statement, Paynter will be responsible for programming and collecting, and is to work "hand-in-hand" with MOCA curator David Liss.
"I am excited and honoured to step into this role at a crucial moment as MOCA finalizes the renovation of its new venue," Paynter said in the statement. "I particularly look forward to shaping the attitude and direction of the program, while retaining the institution's meaning for the local art community by putting relationships at the centre of the operation."
Paynter's background includes posts with the Tate Modern and the Artist Pension Trust in Dubai.
Founded in 1999 as the Art Gallery of North York, the name was changed to the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art upon its move to Queen Street West in 2005. Last spring the museum announced it would be reborn as the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada. Montrealer Pontbriand was to be at the centre of the transformation. After her unexplained exit last summer, veteran city bureaucrat Terry Nicholson was named interim chief executive officer, a position he still holds.