Future looks bright as baton is passed

This is transition week at the Durango Arts Center.

Executive Director Sheri Rochford Figgs is on hand for a few more days while Peggy Zemach, our new executive director as of Monday, hits the ground running.

In addition, Theresa Carson joins the staff as full-time theater director. Since these new appointments were announced in March, the Arts Center’s board of directors and staff members have been working together to guarantee continuation of the positive momentum, fiscal responsibility and programmatic successes that have characterized the past 2½ years.

In just about everyone’s mind, those years were the time when the DAC came back. During Rochford Figgs’ tenure, she and then-board president Terry Swan functioned as the dynamic duo of leadership for the board, staff and volunteers. Some of their “greatest hits” that helped restore public trust in the DAC include:

For the first time since 2007, the Arts Center operated with a balanced budget in 2010 and 2011.

Grant funding increased by 300 percent.

A spacious art studio and a photo gallery were added.

New projects included adult art classes, the first online exhibits, the 10-Minute Play Contest and First Thursday Gallery Walks.

The Autumn Arts Festival and Sweetheart of the Arts events were revived.

the theater and gift shop became profit centers, and other arts organizations were offered partially subsidized rental space.

Successful theater events included summer and Christmas productions.

Nationally acclaimed exhibits included “Seuss on the Loose” and “Textiles Today,” and quarterly exhibits were established at the Durango-La Plata County Airport.

The Arts Center building was brought up to fire code.

Visibility increased in the business community through the Arts Center’s participation in the Business Improvement District and the Chamber of Commerce.

Membership increased from 330 to 960.

While Rochford Figgs is obviously a tough act to follow, Zemach is more than prepared for the challenge. She already has played a vital role in many events and projects at the Arts Center. Zemach is passionate about the center and her extensive background in museum studies and fundraising will serve her well.

Carson also brings with her a wealth of experience, particularly in theater management, production and education. No stranger to regional audiences, her first major project will be directing the Arts Center’s summer theater production, “Bee Hive,” which will open June 15. Her plans also include expansion of theater offerings for children and adults.

So what else can the public expect to see in the near future? No drastic changes are on the horizon, but do look for consistent focus on financial stability and enhancement of existing programs. The Durango Arts Center will continue to evolve as a vibrant hub for the arts in our community.

Rochelle Mann is the president of the board of directors at the Durango Arts Center. Reach her at mann_r@fortlewis.edu.