spaeth retirement has heights arts searching for new executive director

Heights Arts ' executive director Peggy Spaeth is retiring, but that doesn't mean the nonprofit community arts organization will be taking it easy along with her.

The group currently is searching for a replacement for Spaeth, who helped found Heights Arts in 2000 and has led the organization ever since. Since late January, the group has received 40 responses from those hoping to carry on the "creative renaissance" that Spaeth launched over a decade ago, says Heights Arts' board president Sharon Grossman.

"We're just starting the process," says Grossman. "We would like to hire someone by late spring."

Spaeth will stay on board during the hiring period and help train the new executive director after the appointment takes place. The outgoing director said the decision to leave was made out of a desire to pursue other interests.

"We don't want to lose her, but this is an all-encompassing job," Grossman says.

It was also a job that Spaeth did well, adds the board president. As director, she brought public art projects to city streets and chamber music concerts to local living rooms. In 2011, Spaeth oversaw expansion of the Heights Arts Gallery on Lee Road, growing its floorspace and successfully stretching the organization's reach into the community.

"Peggy has great drive and an ability to see the big picture," says Grossman.

Spaeth established important relationships with local artists, also reaching out to public figures -- among them Cleveland Heights Mayor Ed Kelley and Cleveland Cinemas owner Jonathan Forman -- capable of supporting these artists.

Heights' Arts next leader will have challenges ahead, but the transition doesn't have to be rough.

"That person will have a chance to put their own stamp on the organization," says Grossman.  "Change can be good."

SOURCE: Sharon Grossman
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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