CATSKILL — Greene County Coucil on the Arts Director Kay Stamer is stepping down from her position after nearly 40 years, according to statement from the council Monday.
Stamer will leave effective at the end of June to seek new opportunities. The council expects a new executive director will be in place by then.
The council’s staff and board of directors is asking for the public’s support and participation during the transition, Stamer said Monday.
“Your arts council is now taking the next step forward and requires new leadership,” Stamer said.
Stamer was a founding member of the council, which became a nonprofit organization May 3, 1976. She was named executive director in August 1978, according to the council’s website.
“It has been my honor, privilege and pleasure to have worked with all of you over the past 42 years to build an arts council we can all be proud of,” she said. “Together, we have nurtured the arts for the public benefit and contributed enormously to what is now known as our creative economy.”
The council is expanding its services to Columbia and Schoharie counties and is seeking board members from those areas, Stamer said. The council staff has administered the state Council on the Arts’ Decentralization grants in Columbia County since 1997 and in Schoharie County since 2012.
“Extensive technical assistance has always been a part of our regrant programs and now the board is taking steps to ensure our greater participation,” she said.
Stamer declined to comment further on her decision to step down.
Council Board President David Slutzky stepped into an honorary role as board chairman and Bill Deane will serve as the council’s president.
“Thank you for sharing this amazing experience, the journey of a season, and for allowing me to make a difference in our communities,” Stamer said.
Council Treasurer Lawrence Krajeski credited Stamer for contributing an enormous amount to the organization during her tenure.
“She deserves an enormous amount of credit for that,” Krajeski said. “The Greene County Council on the Arts is an important piece of our community.”
The board is in the early stages of searching for a new executive director, Krajeski said. The council’s focus is expansion in Columbia and Schoharie counties.
“A lot of smaller arts councils have failed recently,” Krajeski said. “We’ve been doing our best to step into some shoes.”
Council board member Laura Segall said Stamer worked hard to build up the council.
“She was non-stop; she got us to where we are today,” Segall said. “It’s much appreciated, not just by me, but by everyone.”
The hope for the council’s future lies with its continued success, Segall said.
“It’s a big undertaking, but we feel confident we can get it done,” she said.
Flo Hayle, of Catskill, has known Stamer since 1994. Hayle, who directed a successful state production of “Florence Foster Jenkins” at the Bridge Street Theatre last year, has been working closely with Stamer to increase the presence of the arts in Greene County.
Stamer is a long-time supporter of both the Bridge Street Theatre and Hayle’s one-woman cabaret shows. She is a hard worker who did her best to the make the council a success, Hayle said.
“She’s worked very, very hard for the [council’s] art gallery,” Hayle said of her friend.
As the artists get accustomed to the council’s transition, Stamer plans to help guide and welcome whoever succeeds her.
“Kay has always been, as far as I’m concerned, open to new thoughts,” Hayle said. “She’s not a kid anymore, either, and she wants to do what she wants to do.”
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.