VALDOSTA — Following about 10 years of leadership, the executive director of the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts is resigning.
Cheryl Oliver took on the position of executive director in July 2008, four months after she was hired as interim director. She said she anticipates working at the Turner Center through April.
Oliver said she realized her time to leave the art center was nearing about a year ago, as she recognized that nothing lasts forever.
"While I think that what I've been able to give the center and what the center has been able to give me has been enriching beyond my imagination, I also realize that maybe it's time for a change, for me personally, and it will be good for the center," she said. "Always, I think, an infusion of new blood is a good thing for an organization: new energy, new vision."
After the Turner Center received the Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities in fall 2017, she said the statewide recognition cemented her decision that her time to resign was near, as she wanted to leave the center in the best shape possible.
She said she still has conflicted emotions regarding her departure. But she said she hopes to continue being involved in the Turner Center after she leaves.
"I can unequivocally say that it's been a gratifying, rewarding experience for me," she said.
During her tenure, she said she believes the staff and volunteers at the Turner Center have increased the level of service to the community and expanded the art center's outreach. She said the staff has worked to change the perception of the Turner Center as an elite place to an understanding the center is all inclusive.
"My primary objective back then was to open the doors of this art center to everyone and help people understand that it is a community art center, and it is for every segment of the population," Oliver said. "I think we have been really successful in achieving that goal."
She said most of her memories from the Turner Center involve the people she's met: the staff, volunteers, leaders on the board of directors and the children, particularly the Boys and Girls Club students.
"It is so rewarding to see the looks on those children's faces when they realize that we appreciate their efforts toward creating art, and then we realize the value of what we're giving them is the experience of creativity and creative expression," she said.
Through Oliver's time, she said the center relieved its debt following a debt-elimination campaign in 2013, and the center currently has an endowment fund of nearly $1.5 million.
For the future executive director, Oliver said he or she will do more than just fill her shoes.
"The person who gains this position will bring their own shoes, and they'll make their own tracks," she said.
She said the future executive director will have signed on for a enriching experience.
"You will find in this place a creative outlet," she said as a message to whoever will take on her position. "You will find challenges. You will find friendships, and you will find experiences that will make your life more meaningful."
She said people interested in the executive director position have through Feb. 16 to submit their resume.
Visit turnercenter.org/career-opportunities/ to view information regarding the position.
The Turner Center is located at 527 N. Patterson St. and may be reached at (229) 247-2787.
Kimberly Cannon is a Reporter with The Valdosta Daily Times. Her extension is 1376.