Longtime AC4TA director accepts position in DuluthPublished 11:08am Monday, May 16, 2011
After over 17 years at A Center for the Arts, Executive Director Rebecca Petersen is stepping down to take an executive director job for the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra.
Petersen will be with A Center for the Arts (AC4TA) until July. The center’s board of directors is planning on appointing an interim director within the next two weeks. The interim director will work with Petersen to get up to speed while the board searches for a permanent director.
The job change almost took Petersen by surprise, as she was not looking to leave Fergus Falls or AC4TA. She was approached about take ing the job in February by David Hyslop, a former executive director of the orchestra.
Petersen said she asked Hyslop why she should leave when things are going so well at AC4TA. He responded, “Maybe that’s the best time to leave.”
His statement made her realize that if she was going to change careers, now was the perfect time, as things are running smoothly at AC4TA and Petersen still has plenty to offer in a new position.
“I think I have a good 10, 12, maybe even more years with this orchestra,” she said.
Petersen will work essentially as a sort of manager for the orchestra, making sure things run smoothly and working with the board of directors, the orchestra staff, the conductor and unionized orchestra itself. It’s an exciting prospect for Petersen, a violinist and self-proclaimed symphonic music lover who has been involved extensively with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra.
Still, she will be sad to leave Fergus Falls and the vibrant arts community she helped create. Petersen is particularly proud of helping form some new programs coming this summer, like the Rural Arts and Culture Summit, Toast and Jelly Days Revisited, and the Summer Arts Academy, as well as Concerts in the Park.
“I was able to do a lot and learn a lot,” she said. “The things I learned in this job really prepared me to do anything else.”
“It’s a huge loss for the center and of course for the entire community,” said AC4TA Board President Ben Schierer of Petersen’s departure. “She has been the face of the center.”
However, he added, Petersen has been able to help build the center to a place of security and confidence, and he said that position combined with the rest of the center’s excellent employees should provide a smooth transition.
“We have a very strong staff and a very confident staff,” he said. “We’re in a good position because of our staff and our board of directors.”
Petersen’s husband, Mark Solie, teaches music at Kennedy Secondary School. He and Petersen are not sure when he would leave the school to join her in Duluth, and it is possible that he would continue to teach for another year.