Interviews with Outgoing Executive Director, Tim Peterson

Tim Peterson, outgoing Executive Director of the Northfield Arts Guild, reflected on his 3 years as Director. Listen to the KYMN radio interview from December 14, 2020.

Peterson to leave The Guild, takes Maine position

Northfield News: Nov 6, 2020 Updated Nov 9, 2020

The Northfield Arts Guild Executive Director Tim Peterson will leave his leading role at the end of the year for a new position in Maine.

Peterson, who has served as executive director of The Guild since December 2017, has accepted an executive director and chief curator position at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland, Maine. The museum is operating in a new, 12,000-square-foot building completed approximately five years on the Atlantic midcoast. The museum is the only contemporary visual arts space in Maine and focuses on state artists. The area is relatively quiet in the winter, spring and fall but experiences an explosion of tourists in the summer months.

Peterson, who has served as executive director since the departure of Alyssa Herzog-Melby, noted he was contacted for the position and then submitted an application. Though he knew it would take a lot for him to move from Minnesota, the new opportunity aligns with his current goals by allowing him to curate on a large scale with a focus on visual arts.

Many of Peterson’s tasks will resemble what he does in Northfield. In Maine, he will focus on exhibitions and program-related events. He will supervise a larger staff while engaging in programming, fundraising and audience engagement work. He will also curate large-scale exhibitions intended to leverage opportunities for emerging, established artists.

In a written statement, The Guild Board President Rolf Kragseth said he wanted “to express my sincere thanks to Tim Peterson for his leadership over the past three years.”

“His vision, fundraising skills and financial management have strengthened The Guild and enabled us to further our work in service of our mission,” Kregseth said. “He has also been a dedicated advocate for increasing diversity, equity and inclusion across the organization. While we have more to accomplish in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion, we are fully committed to carry forward this work.”

The Northfield Arts Guild is a nonprofit arts center that offers programming in theater, music, visual arts and art education.

Perhaps Peterson’s most treasured accomplishment as leader of The Guild is the heightened attention to equity, diversity and inclusion the organization undertook over the last three years. He said he is pleased there are “two talented people of color” on the Board of Directors. Also, The Guild has hired a bilingual education assistant, launched identity-consolidated programming and increased teen opportunities by launching an Inspiration Station To-Go, taking art-making across the city to reach low-income neighborhoods.

“They really do provide opportunities for everyone,” he said of The Guild.

Peterson said under his watch The Guild has also aligned events to volunteer capacity, had three budget surpluses and completed a three-year plan on setting a roadmap to become more inclusive. However, Peterson said none of his work was done in isolation and instead came with stakeholder input.

“My job was to listen for requests for change and start down that path,” he said.

In 2019, The Guild undertook 60th anniversary programming in 2019, including holding an ice cream social for longtime member Myrna Johnson. The organization honored its six founders at Armory Square and developed programming honoring the work undertaken by past generations. Peterson is creating a history book documenting the first 60 years of The Guild.

“It’s a remarkable institution; it does a lot,” Peterson said. ‘It’s hard to leave’

The onset of the pandemic has brought challenges for The Guild. The organization has lost all traditional event ticket sales. In spite of that, Peterson noted individual donations have risen 27% during COVID-19.

Peterson’s replacement will be selected after a hiring process led by The Guild’s Board of Directors. As the end of his tenure nears, Peterson said he is grateful for being in a leadership role and for his organization expanding his understanding of how to serve the community. He expects to remain a member.

“I am incredibly proud of the work we have accomplished together on behalf of our community. In my experience, there is no other place where passion for the arts runs as deeply as it does in Northfield,” he said.

Peterson will succeed Suzette McAvoy, who retires at the end of December after more than 10 years at the helm of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.

Martha Jones, Center for Maine Contemporary Art Board of Trustees chair, wrote Peterson “will not only elevate our mission of advancing Maine contemporary art but also ensure that CMCA evolves its vision, exhibitions, and programs to continue to be vital and relevant in changing times.”

“With deep roots in contemporary art, Tim possesses the right combination of operational and curatorial expertise necessary to build upon Suzette’s exceptional legacy,” Jones said.

“I could not be more pleased with Tim’s selection as the next leader of CMCA,” McAvoy noted. “His extensive curatorial and leadership experience, knowledge of contemporary art, and passion for working with living artists are exactly right for CMCA. I am excited to introduce him to the Maine art community and to be handing the reins of CMCA over to someone as qualified as Tim.”

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.