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St. Lawrence County Arts Council hires new director

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POTSDAM — The St. Lawrence County Arts Council has hired Suzy P. McBroom, Potsdam, as its new director effective May 26. She has worked for the council for six years as grants and education coordinator.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’ve already got a chance to work with people across the three-county region, so this is an opportunity to expand on the relationships we’ve already started. I’m considering it a natural expansion of the work I’m already doing.”

Director Rebekah L. Wilkins-Pepiton, who started in the position in January 2013, announced in March that she is moving to Washington state to be closer to friends and family.

“Becca was wonderful in that position,” said Jason E. Hubbard, president of the council board of directors. “They’re big shoes to fill, but I’m 100 percent competent Suzy will do that. We’re expecting a very smooth transition.”

Mr. Hubbard said that out of the 10 applicants for the job, Ms. McBroom was the “most logical choice.”

“It was an easy decision,” he said. “She knows the ins and outs of the council since she’s been working here for so long.”

Ms. McBroom said two main things she wants to focus on are community engagement and accessibility of programming.

She said she soon will solicit community input on a regional arts and interactive learning project that is in the works at Clarkson University’s downtown Snell Hall.

Mr. Hubbard said the RAIL project’s significance played a role in the decision to select Ms. McBroom as director.

“We need to have someone who can lead us through that project,” he said.

Ms. McBroom said she wants to expand the Special Arts for Special Needs program to a broader region. The program has been established only in Potsdam and Gouverneur, but she said the council is unsure of where it can expand.

Ms. McBroom said the community classes received a $1,000 grant from Sweetgrass Foundation to fund scholarships for community members who want to attend classes but can’t afford them. “In the future, we’ll be looking for more funding for that purpose,” she said.

She said the council also has added to the second annual Young People’s Arts Festival next month. She said this year the North Country Children’s Museum will offer an interactive exhibit during the lunch hour of the festival, set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 14 at downtown Snell Hall. During the festival, up to 80 children ages 7 to 13 can participate in four out of eight classes.

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