ArtsCenter director resigns

Aug. 04, 2014 @ 04:38 PM

Citing stress and poor health, Art Menius has announced his retirement effective the end of this month as executive director of The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, a position he first took over in April 2012.

Menius has been on sabbatical from his duties at the non-profit organization since July. On his website, he attributed that decision to “stress, exhaustion, and long term overwork combined with poor physical and mental health.” Menius’ mother Lucille Clarke Varner  “Lucy” Menius died last week at the age of 94. That event, Menius wrote, “brought the realization that while I am not ready to retire altogether; I no longer have to work full time. I no longer have to endure the wear and tear of one 60 hour work week after another.”

Menius is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the ArtsCenter. He will continue to work on projects that he loves, he stated.

The ArtsCenter board of directors accepted his resignation Friday, according to a release from board chairman Jay Miller. His retirement will begin at the end of his sabbatical this month. The board plans to form a search committee soon for a new full-time director, Miller stated in a letter on behalf of the board.

The ArtsCenter Board did not expect Menius’ resignation, Miller said in a phone interview.  “Non-profit work is based on service and not money,” he said, and burnout is not uncommon. “In any nonprofit work you do, there’s never an end to the amount of service you want to provide. People who really want to provide service end up overworking,” Miller said.

“His greatest accomplishment was his civic work,” Miller said of Menius’ tenure. “He joined several committees and was active with the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club on behalf of the ArtsCenter. He’s really good with long-range strategy.”

The last search for a full-time director took a little more than three months, and this search could take that same amount of time, Miller said. “We want to take a very measured approach to it,” he said.

Menius graduated with undergraduate and master’s degrees from UNC Chapel Hill. He has written extensively about bluegrass and other traditional American music. He was a production assistant and writer for the Nashville Network’s series “Fire on the Mountain.” In 1985, he helped found the International Bluegrass Music Association and became its first executive director.

His time as director of The ArtsCenter saw some changes in the organization’s focus and plans. The organization in early 2011 faced a $250,000 deficit, but ended the 2012 fiscal year with extra cash. In February 2013 The ArtsCenter released a new mission statement, pledging to emphasize arts education over performance, although the organization continues to present theater, comedy and concerts.
Menius helped with the planning for a proposed arts and creativity district in Carrboro. That plan includes a proposed new building for the ArtsCenter, to be built at the corner of East Main and Rosemary streets, a few hundred feet west of its current location at 300-G E. Main St.