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St. Lawrence County Arts Council director announces resignation

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POTSDAM — The St. Lawrence County Arts Council is in the market for a new executive director.

Director Rebekah L. Wilkins-Pepiton announced Friday she soon will be leaving the north country to move to Washington state.

Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton replaced Hilary M. Oak as director in January 2013. She said she is leaving the position to be closer to friends and family living in the Northwest.

She spent years working as an art teacher in Colorado before joining the Peace Corps, serving in China and eventually moving to the north country.

“In a lot of ways it feels like we are going home,” she said.

Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton will be moving with her husband, Charles M. Pepiton, a visiting assistant professor at St. Lawrence University, Canton.

The last year has been filled with changes for the Arts Council. In September, the council closed its Market Street offices, gift shop and gallery to save money. The offices were moved to old Snell Hall downtown and the gallery to the town hall at 18 Elm St. The gift shop was closed entirely.

The council also partnered with the North Country Children’s Museum to create the Regional Arts and Interactive Learning project. If all goes according to plan, this eventually will lead to the creation of an art gallery and more artist studio spaces in old Snell Hall.

“I feel really good about what we’ve been able to accomplish in bringing the organization onto firm financial footing and focusing on our mission of building community partnerships,” Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton said.

The board of directors has begun accepting applications for a new director.

The ideal candidate has a background in arts management, but it is even more important that the next director be adept at navigating the constantly changing world of state arts grants, which make up a large portion of the council’s funding, according to board of directors President Jason Hubbard.

“The experience in the arts is a bonus for us,” he said.

The Arts Council is a different organization than it was a year ago, he said. While once much of the director’s job was focused largely on managing the council’s commercial efforts in the gift shop, it is more dedicated than ever to providing local arts education and support for north country artists.

“The job has changed completely from when Rebekah started the position,” he said.

The next director will be expected to oversee more classes and events for the council, while helping to manage the growth of the Regional Arts and Interactive Learning project.

“Rebekah was an incredible asset to the Arts Council, and she’s definitely going to be very hard to replace, but she’s done a wonderful job of getting us to a good point,” Mr. Hubbard said.

The council is concentrating most of its advertising for the position locally, but the board will consider applicants no matter where they are from, Mr. Hubbard said.

The board of directors will accept applications for Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton’s successor until April 15. Whoever is chosen likely will begin work May 15.

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