McConnell Arts Center Executive Director stepping down at year’s end

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Jon Cook, the first and only executive director of the McConnell Arts Center, has announced he will retire Dec. 31.

Cook was hired in May 2009 and oversaw the final stages of construction for the McConnell Arts Center and was there when it opened its doors in November 2009.

“It’s been a great run and I have enjoyed every minute, but it’s time to pass the baton,” Cook said. “Art should be ever changing, and I’ve brought my style and passion to the MAC for nearly 10 years. As the center evolves, so should the art, and that will now rely on the tastes and whims of someone new.”

Jill Brandt, president of the board of trustees, said, “Jon has spearheaded efforts that have made the McConnell Arts Center one of the premier community arts facilities in the state. He found his footing quickly, and it didn’t take long for the halls, exhibit space and classrooms to be filled. During his tenure we have grown to an organization that serves more than 85,000 individuals a year. By any barometer, that is a very impressive number.”

Cook, 54, was previously the director of administration and finance for BalletMet. He left there in 1996 to become CFO of Rauch Inc. in New Albany. He left central Ohio in 2001 to become administrative director of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. He returned to Columbus in 2007 as the executive director of Mortar Board National Honor Society, a post he held until being named executive director of the McConnell Arts Center.

He has curated, installed or juried more than 125 exhibitions in the past 11 years for a variety of cultural institutions, festivals and experiences across the country. He was instrumental in creating the successful Worthington-Sayama Arts Exchange with the Sayama, Japan, Arts Association.

His other accomplishments at the McConnell Arts Center include oversight of the creation of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra, expansion of educational offerings in dance, music and the visual arts, and most recently, management and programming of the Worthington Arts Festival.

Brandt said the search for Cook’s successor has already begun.

“Jon has positioned the organization to continue to grow, both artistically and numbers served,” Brandt said. “Some programming is already booked through 2021 and the board has always been very active in programming. A search committee has been formed, and we look forward to filling the position by the end of the calendar year.”

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