By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM – Hilary Oak, the executive director of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council, has announced that she will leave that position when her replacement has been found.
Oak began working with the council when it was restarted in December 2001 after being disbanded earlier that year.
“The new board inherited about $400 and an old Mac computer, a couple of file boxes and the original charter,” Oak said.
After several years of expansion of the council’s activities, Oak said “It’s just time. I feel I’ve taken the organization about as far as I can take it. It’s time for someone with a new vision and new energy.”
She won’t leave until a new director is in place.
“When depends on when a new director has been identified and trained. There’s good staff and a strong board to provide continuity.”
She feels good about her tenure, which saw her and the board deliver broad expansion of services.
They moved into the gift shop, gallery and offices in November 2005. The wide variety of classes and workshops they were offering moved from the gift shop to classrooms and studios in Clarkson University’s downtown Snell Hall in April 2010.
She is particularly pleased with “the professional support we give artists including our microenterprise program with the village,” which provides small loans to artists trying to start small businesses with their work, and with the work the council was asked by the state Council on the Arts in administering two grant programs in St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Lewis counties.
The gift shop, at 51 Market St., is full of the work of 300 artists, authors and musicians, an outlet they might not otherwise have. The shop directly employs eight people, jobs which didn’t exist before it opened.
“That’s a pretty significant economic impact,” not even counting the grant money the organization brings in and the opportunity it provides to the hundreds of artists who have a place to sell their work.
Oak is looking forward to developing “a kind of spiritual healing career – meditation and other kinds of energy therapy, Thai yoga and labyrinth walks at my home in South Colton. She already has a name for the business, Cheerful Strength, which is a play on her name: “Hilary is based on the same root as ‘hilarious’ and the oak is an ancient symbol of strength.”
The executive director job posting is on the council’s web site at slcartscouncil.org/.