In the accomplished decade, visitors to the McConnell Arts Centermost in Worthington accept assuredly apparent a slim, active man alignment chairs onstage for a alcove music concert, acclimation a agee allotment of art in the display anteroom or disposed to any of the countless added baby tasks that pop up at the multipurpose venue.
Jon Cook isn’t a babysitter or a advance but the center’s aboriginal and alone controlling administrator in its 10-year history.
Cook’s admirers babble about his adeptness to both arrange the big account and administer the bigger capacity of the center, which, they say, he has agilely developed into a basic atom for artists to affix with others, including abounding who alive alfresco Worthington.
“Jon has spearheaded efforts that accept fabricated the McConnell Arts Centermost one of the arch association arts accessories in the state,” said Jill Brandt, admiral of the center’s lath of trustees.
Content with the center’s advance through the years, Cook has absitively to retire. The Worthington association accustomed him bygone with an accessible abode at the arts center, advanced of his able abandonment date of Dec. 31. He will abalienate the reins to Upper Arlington citizen Katie Kramer, whose hiring was appear on Monday. (See accompanying story.)
Cook alleged his administering “a abundant run” but said the time is appropriate “to canyon the baton.”
“I’m accessible to do added things, accessible to booty some time for myself,” he said, acquainted his interests in architecture, amphitheater and home renovation.
Cook accustomed at the centermost from his executive-director role at the Mortar Lath National Honor Society in Columbus. Previously, he was the founding authoritative administrator of the Houston Centermost for Contemporary Ability and, afore that, administrator of administering and accounts for BalletMet in Columbus.
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The Wisconsin built-in has degrees in amphitheater from Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, but he additionally advised finance.
“Jon has that business ability but additionally theater,” said Bronwynn Hopton, a above ball abecedary at Thomas Worthington High, above centermost lath admiral and accepted lath member. “And he’s affectionate of a chastened personality. He doesn’t charge the ego spotlight.”
The McConnell Arts Centermost — at 777 Evening St. abutting to Thomas Worthington High Academy — originated in 1916 as Worthington High School. By 1952, however, the architecture was actuality acclimated mostly for abetting classes and accumulator and, by the backward 1990s, was appointed for demolition.
Community associates absorbed in extenuative the area aloft added than $5 actor to clean it into a association arts center. (The MAC, as the centermost is affectionately called, is called for the backward Peggy R. McConnell, a philanthropist and the wife of John H. McConnell, the backward artist of Worthington Industries.)
In 2007, the burghal of Worthington bought the three-story, 22,000 aboveboard bottom architecture for $1. The ambition for the arts centermost back it opened in 2009 was to serve 25,000 bodies a year.
Ten years later, beneath Cook’s direction, the centermost is confined 87,000 bodies — 78 percent of whom alive alfresco Worthington, Cook says — and acknowledging about 500 artists in countless genres. The centermost operates on an anniversary account of about $860,000 and has a full-time agents of six.
The MAC is one of the few association arts centers in Ohio that burrow into about all art forms: theater, dance, music, film, beheld art, agenda art and craft.
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Given the building’s origins as a school, the center’s spaces are mostly classroom-sized, bigger ill-fitted for educational opportunities than ample performances. Its better space, the theater, seats 213; its next-largest is the 1,000-square-foot display space.
Each year, the centermost offers 65 classes in six-week sessions in a ambit of disciplines. Hixon Dance, a avant-garde affiliation led by Sarah Hixon, is in abode there, as is the McConnell Arts Centermost Alcove Orchestra. The MAC participates in an arts barter with Worthington sister burghal Sayama, Japan, and afresh acquired the duties of managing and programming the anniversary Worthington Arts Festival.
Cook, Hopton said, deserves acclaim for the abounding successes.
“The aboriginal planning board saw it as a multidimensional building,” Hopton said. “Jon affiliated that and fabricated it a reality.”
Michael Ball, a retired artist and a Worthington citizen who headed the chase for a new centermost director, said Cook has accomplished his eyes for the MAC as a abode for Worthington artists to affix with visitors — a abode that would become “a baby for the artists of the community.”
Challenges for the future, Cook said, accommodate award a way to action beyond contest — conceivably programming contest alfresco the building— and continuing to address to adolescent audiences.
Cook takes pride, he said, in the MAC’s multi-use concept, which has served as a archetypal for added cities developing association art centers.
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“The abstraction of the association arts centermost does not betoken amateurism,” he said, advertence the abounding acclaimed able artists who accept apparent assignment there, including Worthington citizen Dorothy Gill Barnes and Columbus citizen Queen Brooks.
At the aforementioned time, he said, the MAC uses its “outlier” role to aid the beyond axial Ohio arts community.
“We’re not the big arts group,” he said. “We don’t attempt with the Columbus Symphony or BalletMet, but we acquaint with them and we enhance them, I think. For instance, we consistently accept a apprehension accumulation from the Columbus Symphony accomplish here, and that gives the Columbus Symphony added recognition.”
Cook affairs to bound put his chargeless time to acceptable use. In January, he and his husband, Eric Boardson (who retired from his job with Ticketmaster two years ago), plan to arch to Curacao, an island off the bank of Venezuela, for a brace of months.
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