The Canal Winchester Times

Johnson retires from Columbus' Cultural Arts Center

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Jennifer Johnson ended the year -- and her career -- on a high note.

After 28 years as administrator of the Cultural Arts Center in downtown Columbus, Johnson retired Dec. 28.

Meanwhile, class registration at the CAC has been running at an all-time high, with 767 adults signed up to take studio classes during the current eight-week term, Johnson said.

"I would like to say how many thanks need to be given to our volunteers, our friends and our supporters," she said. "Without them we could never be what we are today."

Johnson, 64, stresses she's not an artist.

"It's been a really great collaboration between the creative faculty and the administrative office, to marry our talents to create such a great program for Columbus," she said.

The CAC, run by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, is located at 139 W. Main St. across from Bicentennial Park.

Among the amenities at the center are five major studios, one of the city's largest public galleries, a courtyard and a student-and-faculty gift shop.

"We have literally served thousands and thousands of people since we opened in 1978," Johnson said.

"We have done special events, lectures and art trips, all serving the Columbus community, bringing art to life for our city."

Johnson, who made $84,739 annually, said she's going to miss the creativity and fellowship at the CAC.

"People come here for so many different reasons, and to create art is one big one, but it's also a place where people connect."

She said she's grateful to the city and rec and parks for their longtime support of the facility.

Terri Leist, planning administrator for recreation and parks, returned the compliment.

"Jennifer's artistic vision and leadership skills allowed her to successfully mesh the creative world with the world of government, which isn't always easy," Leist said.

"She has been a tremendous talent for our department and she will be greatly missed, but we wish her the very best in this next adventure of her life."

Johnson said she was in charge of arts programming for the city of Akron before arriving in Columbus. She said her immediate plan is to travel the country for a year.

"And, when I come back home I hope to be an advocate for the Cultural Arts Center and a very supportive volunteer," she said.

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