LITTLE FALLS -- Sandy Johnson, the longtime executive director of the Great River Arts Association in Little Falls, recently announced her resignation from the post she has held since 1994.
A founding member of the community arts organization, Johnson said in a recent letter to the GRAA board that she is stepping down "for no other reason than it feels like time for me to move on."
Johnson said she plans to stay on in her position until a replacement can be hired and trained, but will depart from the day to day activity of the organization no later than Sept. 1.
"Though I have had several more lucrative offers while in my position at GRAA, I felt and continue to feel a certain loyalty to the arts groups and individual artists we serve," she wrote in her resignation letter.
"Therefore, I will continue to make myself available for consult or perhaps to serve on the board of directors if you were to request it," she added, saying she plans to operate in the future as an "independent private nonprofit arts management consulting for rural Minnesota communities."
GRAA was founded in 1992 to develop fine arts and cultural awareness and support arts organizations and individual artists in the Little Falls area, according to the organization's promotional material.
Johnson, an original founding member of the board, took over administrative and management functions as executive director a couple years later. She is the only paid executive director the organization has ever had.
GRAA provides management, business and promotional services to several area organizations, including the Heartland Symphony Orchestra, Hole in the Day Players Community Theater, Little Falls House Concerts and several others.
It is headquartered in the Morrison County Government Center in downtown Little Falls.
An acknowledged successful fund-raiser, Johnson has raised thousands of dollars over the years to sustain the arts association, as well as the other groups it has taken under its wing.
Johnson told the Heartland Symphony Orchestra board of director recently about her resignation, but offered to continue with the community orchestra on a short-term consulting contract over the next six months.
The Heartland board unanimously approved Johnson's proposed contract, which requests about $5,000 plus expenses to develop ways to bolster player membership with the orchestra and act as temporary business manager until a new one can be hired.
Tom Kotvel, the Heartland business manager during the past three concert seasons, recently stepped down at the request of the board, which is conducting a wholesale shakeup of the community orchestra and its staff.
"I have great faith that concerned citizens and artists of the greater Little Falls area will value and keep alive this local arts agency," Johnson said in her resignation letter. "The value of the arts in people's lives cannot be measured, it can only be felt. That will never change and that is what GRAA is all about."
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