Coming home to the artsMarian McClain Holt joins BAC.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:57 PM
"For new Bainbridge Arts and Crafts director Marian Holt McClain, working for the arts organization is like coming home.Art has been a strong personal passion and interest all of my life, McClain said. I'm returning from a 30-year career in the convention industry. Last March, the BAC board tapped McClain to evaluate the organization and its development. Then, in July, the board split the position held by Janice Shaw - which had encompassed artistic, educational, financial and marketing functions - in two. Shaw was given curatorial duties as the gallery's artistic director, while McClain herself was hired to tackle the rest - first on an interim basis, and then as permanent director.We expect that with her background, she will focus on cultural tourism to expand BAC's markets, publicist Pat Andrews said. While McClain hasn't worked for arts organizations, the skills she developed at non-profits are transferable to BAC, she says. She hopes to clarify BAC's role within the context of the island's other arts organizations.None of us have enough resources to do everything, McClain said. We need to define our roles so we can maximize our resources. I strongly believe in partnerships.McClain lays claim to being the first woman in the United States hired to run a major convention and visitors' bureau, in San Jose, Calif. During her tenure, the city's revenue income from tourism more than doubled, she said.McClain saw a similar need for communication and clarification in San Jose. She instituted regular breakfast meetings for all the players, promoting intra-agency partnerships.McClain will also provide administrative support so that BAC can continue to grow programs and fulfill the needs of the community.A lot of people think of us as a gallery only, McClain said, but we also offer other programs. A partnership with the Ordway PTO this fall will offer after-school art classes - a pilot program other schools have already expressed an interest, she said.Other BAC educational programs under way include more beginning and advanced art technique workshops, requested by BAC members in a survey taken last year.McClain is taking classes to enhance her own skills. A fiber artist, she works in a tiny studio more like a sewing room, combining rug hooking, fabric painting, quilting and weaving.Settling on Bainbridge also means coming home in a literal way for McClain, who grew up on the Eastside, the great-granddaughter of pioneers who came to Puget Sound in the 1880s.She lived on the island part-time for five years, commuting to her job in San Jose, before moving here full-time a year ago. Now that she no longer has to travel for her work, she has time to garden and to serve gourmet meals to the new friends she has already made on the island.One of the 'perks' of my job is that I have the opportunity to meet fascinating and lovely people, McClain said, They certainly are here in numbers. I'm happy in my work, too. I just want to help bring more people through the door so that we can support the visual artists. "