Joy Pennington, who has been the director of the Arkansas Arts Council for 16 years and a state employee for 28 years, will resign at the end of August and become the part-time director of Arkansans for the Arts, a nonprofit arts advocacy organization.
“I’m leaving a really great and experienced staff here. It was a good time for me to go,” Pennington said. She said she had planned to stay two more years but the Arkansans for the Arts job opening persuaded to her resign now.
As head of the Arts Council, Pennington has headed an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage that provides arts education grants, including in school and summer artist residencies; grants individual artist fellowships; collaborates with nonprofits like ACANSA, the Argenta Community Theater and other public agencies; provides operating support to arts groups large and small, from the Arkansas Arts Center to the Rogers Little Theater; maintains an artists registry and hosts the Small Works on Paper exhibition. It’s a busy agency, but like other state agencies has seen cutbacks in staff thanks to Gov. Hutchinson’s efficiency program and will lose about 1,500 square feet in space when DAH moves to its new headquarters. The agency is supported by federal dollars (30 percent), general revenues, the real estate transfer tax and grants from the Windgate Foundation of Siloam Springs.
Pennington succeeds Jessica Sabin at Arkansans for the Arts. The nonprofit offers professional development for teachers in the visual and performing arts all over Arkansas, meeting new fine arts standards adopted by the state Department of Education that have expanded the arts curriculum. Arkansans for the Arts got one-time start-up funds from the Arts Council under Gov. Mike Beebe, and is also supported by Americans for the Arts and the Windgate Foundation.