Willoughby’s treasured Fine Arts Association launches a new season of discovery

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The Fine Arts Association staff members, including Paul Holm, CEO, Marcia Kish, Special Projects Coordinator, Judi Peters, Administrative Coordinator, Ann Hedger, Programs Coordinator (seated) and Yvonne Delgado Thomas, Director of Development are focused on leading the hub for all things arts into the future—and beyond. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Patricia Nugent

With the dynamic energy of a team marshalled by new leadership and seasoned veterans, The Fine Arts Association has just thrown open the curtain on a new performance season and announced its lineup of classes and creative arts therapies programs in keeping with its 62-year-old mission of “all arts under one roof.”

“With such a rich legacy of arts advancement and education, I saw taking this position as the perfect opportunity to help write the next chapter,” says CEO Paul Holm, whose background is in music education, business administration and leadership. Since he came on board in January, Paul has been putting a core team in place.

“I’m a big believer in finding the right person and putting them in the right place for the right reasons, and that’s what our team is all about,” he says.

“Along with those who have served FAA for decades, this group has the right skills to respond to the community’s needs going forward into 2020 and beyond. At our heart, we are a fine arts school offering everything from dance and music classes for toddlers to visual arts and theatre classes for adults and seniors, as well as music therapy and special programs.”

Willoughby’s The Fine Arts Association was launched in the home of Jim and Louise Savage. Today the facility located on Mentor Avenue brings arts and the community together under one impressive roof.

Meet the Cast of Characters
One of the first faces you’ll encounter at The Fine Arts Association is the outrageously outgoing Customer Experience Coordinator Maggie Gatzke, a college theatre major who says she feels like she’s home here.

“Things have come full circle for me, as I performed in shows and met my husband while working here,” she says. “Here’s what you can say about The Fine Arts Association: We are all a big family, from the staff to the students and patrons. We’re a place where everyone belongs.”

Director of Education Michael Lund Ziegler says he came to The Fine Arts Association from Cincinnati because of its vast potential.

Director of Education Michael Lund Ziegler (right) says he came to The Fine Arts Association from Cincinnati because of its vast potential. He’s pictured with Education Coordinator Jackie DiFrangia.

“Our faculty size, and this amazing facility—which is 39,000 square feet of everything from performance hall to three floors of classrooms and dance studios—allow us to reach people in meaningful ways,” he says. “The sky’s the limit.”

Helping Michael with education coordination is Jackie DiFrangia. Like so many here, she grew up performing in shows.

“I’m so happy to be part of The Fine Arts Association, which is such a unique entity—a thriving part of the community,” she says.

And making her job smoother is the newly revamped online registration process.

According to Manager of Marketing and Communications Alyssa Lombardi, the new site makes things faster and easier for more people to access it.

Shown here are The Fine Arts Association staff members (L-R): Development Manager Ryan Kearns, Manager of Marketing and Communications Alyssa Lombardi, and Customer Experience Coordinator Maggie Gatzke.

A Little Name Dropping
In addition to the team members already mentioned, other new staffers to The Fine Arts Association include Ryan Kearns, Development Manager; and Marcia Kish, Special Projects Coordinator.

Existing The Fine Arts Association staff with new leadership roles within the organization include Melissa Sextella, Curriculum Coordinator (also faculty); Ann Marie Raddell, Coordinator of Creative Arts Therapies (also faculty); and Judi Peters, Administrative Coordinator.

The long-term The Fine Arts Association staff includes Yvonne Delgado Thomas, Director of Development; David Malinowski, The Roger and Anne Clapp Chair of Performing Arts; Ann Hedger, Programming Coordinator; Suzanne Benet, Finance Manager; Hannah Sandham, Costume Shop Manager; Thomas (Tom) Linsenmeier, Resident Sound Designer; Shirley Cline, Customer Service Representative; Dee Germano, Customer Service Representative; John Meyer and Fred Burkhart, Maintenance staff; and Michael Roesch, Technical Director.

The Fine Arts Association is located at 38660 Mentor Avenue in Willoughby. Call 440-951-7500 for more information or visit FineArtsAssociation.org.