John MacElwee to Step Down as Centrum Executive Director

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Centrum, Washington’s Home for Creative Arts and Education based at Fort Worden State Park, has announced that John MacElwee will leave his post as Executive Director of the organization on November 30 and will return to his arts and community development consulting practice. MacElwee was hired in April 2009. According to Cynthia McBride, President of the Centrum Board of Directors, an interim director will be selected to help ensure a smooth transition until a nationwide search for a new executive director is completed.

During MacElwee’s tenure, the organization saw growth in its workshops, specifically its singing workshop, Voice Works, which is now offered annually and the expansion of the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference to two weeks in addition to capacity registrations for the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, Jazz Port Townsend, and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. MacElwee oversaw the hiring of four of the five current artistic directors including Daryl Davis (blues), Suzy Thompson (Fiddle Tunes), Erin Belieu (writing), and Lucinda Carver (chamber music). In addition, the Seattle Symphony gave its first performance at McCurdy Pavilion in 2011, after nearly a decade absence. This past September, Centrum inaugurated its Reverberations Festival, utilizing Fort Worden’s historic gun batteries with composer Wayne Horvitz’s musical installation 55: Music and Dance in Concrete.

“I have had four wonderful seasons with Centrum, which is singularly unique in this country in offering the widest variety of experienced-based arts workshops in one of the most beautiful places anywhere in the world,” said MacElwee. “For me, it has been a thrilling ride and now is a good time to turn over the reins to new leadership. I am grateful to the Board of Directors, artistic directors, staff and supporters, for the opportunity to have served in this role.”

“We greatly appreciate John’s service to Centrum, and we will be seeking a new director as we approach our fortieth anniversary season,” said McBride. “We expect the transition to be smooth and appreciate the continued support of the board, staff, donors and local community during this interim period.”

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