March 2009 News From Centrum

I am delighted to announce that John MacElwee has accepted an offer
from the Centrum Board of Directors and will become the fifth Executive
Director in the thirty-seven year history of Centrum. MacElwee
(pronounced Mac-ELL-wee) will begin his tenure at the beginning of
April. John replaces Thatcher Bailey who is now focusing on the newly
established Fort Worden Collaborative.

John has worked in the field of arts management for over twenty-five
years, and was selected from a field of forty-five applicants. We are
thrilled to find a person of John’s caliber. He is the perfect fit for
our organization. As Detroit Symphony Chairman Emeritus, Peter D.
Cummings described him, he’s “the best non-profit marketer I ever
worked with.”

“I am so excited to be a part of Centrum,” John says.  “I look forward to working with all of you to ensure
that Centrum communities and programs remain strong. I’m excited about
all of the collaborative possibilities both at Fort Worden State Park
and in Port Townsend, which, together, comprise a truly magical corner
of the world. I am meeting with staff and board members prior to my
start, and will reach out to as many of you as I can upon my arrival in

John’s career started twenty-five years ago in the field of marketing,
fundraising, and community relations for symphony orchestras, including
the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, California. the Houston
Symphony, and the Detroit Symphony, where he served as Vice President
for Marketing and Communications–and where he brought tickets sales to
their highest levels.

He also initiated two new community based jazz programs as part of the
orchestra’s outreach programming. He later moved to the directorship of
the Arts Council of Sonoma County, where he has worked with a broad
array of community arts programs. Most recently, he was lead consultant
in developing the business plan for the $120 million Green Music Center
at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California, scheduled to
open in 2011. Throughout his management career, John has continued to
perform as a bass player with varied jazz ensembles, as well as
orchestras and bluegrass groups.

On May 1, we will be opening up ticket sales for our summer and fall
performances – including our June 26-27 concerts with the Borromeo
String Quartet.

As a Centrum donor, we’d like to invite you to get a head start on the
general public. Therefore, we will be opening ticket sales for donors
beginning Monday, April 20. Reserve the seat you want by purchasing
tickets online at, or by calling us at 360-385-3102

Moving forward in 2009, all of us at Centrum are committed to
sustaining and growing the communities and experiences that you love.
Our four strategic values—cultural competence, artistic relevance,
partnership, and financial vitality will guide our work this year and
beyond, underlining the responsibility to ensure the continued growth
of our communities and its artists. So what’s happening in our
communities? Visit for all of the latest information,
but here’s a taste:

Fiddle Tunes at Centrum

We just wrapped up a very successful Quebecois Fiddle Tunes Intensive
in March with De Temps Antan, and are working with Artistic Director
Dirk Powell, gearing up for this summer’s Festival of American Fiddle
. In November, we focus on Cajun music and culture during Le Bal
de Maison – A Cajun House Party
taking place at Fort Worden.

Residencies and New Work

At the end of 2008, we refocused our Artist in Residence program to
support the creation of New Work by artists. This initiative is paying
off. Over 120 artists are scheduled to be with us so far in 2009,
creating new art at Fort Worden.

Young Artist Project
We are set to launch our middle school Explorations workshops, which
give students from across the state  – as well as the all 7th graders
in Port Townsend-  the opportunity to work with an amazing group of
artists, including African dancers, Caribbean drummers, Latin American
sculptors and glass blowers, Japanese musicians, and modern American
hip-hop artists. It will also be a very busy summer for young artists,
with our Summer High School Arts Camp; DANCE This – a new partnership
with Seattle Theatre Group for high-schoolers; and Whale Camp – a new
partnership with The Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

The Centrum Writers’ Exchange

Artistic Director Cristina García has crafted a completely sold-out
workshop May 7-10 entitled Holding Your Gaze: The Literature of
, with poet Carolyn Forché. And the week of July 12-19, the Port
Townsend Writers’ Conference
will feature novelist Chris Abani,
nonfiction writers Kim Barnes and Denise Chávez, poets Mark Doty and
Robert Wrigely, and many others.

Jazz at Centrum

When you look at the faculty for 2009 Jazz Port Townsend, you see the
future of jazz in America. Artistic Director John Clayton has invited a
dynamic and exciting group of young artists to join some of our
favorite faculty, and the results are outstanding; workshop
registrations are well ahead of projections. We’ve also just announced
two new gatherings that will take place in the fall, a Big Band
led by John Clayton, and an Advanced Improvisation Intensive
with Geoffrey Keezer.

Blues at Centrum

MacArthur Fellow Corey Harris kicks off his first year as Artistic
Director of Blues at Centrum by inviting Terry Bean, Jerron Paxton, and
Hook Herrera to come to Fort Worden in late April for a Traditional
Back Porch Blues Summit
. He’s also asked three West African
musicians—Cheick Hamala Diabaté, Moussa Konate, and Mohamed Kouyate to
join this summer’s (renamed) Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival to
highlight our shared musical heritage. In October, we’ll be hosting a
Piedmont Blues Intensive with John Dee Holeman, Michael Roach, and
Lightnin’ Wells.

Fort Worden

At the end of the year, Centrum responded to a “Request for Letters of
Interest” from Washington State Parks, outlining the organization’s
long-term commitment to Fort Worden. Centrum’s application has been
favorably reviewed and a two-year effort is now underway to achieve a
host of mutually agreed upon organizational, financial, and program
milestones that prove the wisdom of the State developing a long term
co-management agreement with Centrum.

The working group for the newly named Fort Worden Collaborative
consists of Fort Worden Manager Kate Burke, Centrum Board members John
Begley and Cindy Hill Finnie, and former Centrum Executive Director
Thatcher Bailey. In its efforts to develop, support, and promote
creative learning and discovery at Fort Worden. The Collaborative will
devote resources to strengthen the alliance of public, private
nonprofit, and for profit enterprises at the Park.

In gratitude,
Libby Reid, Centrum Board President

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