Weehawken Creative Arts
by Jill Bockes
Apr 01, 2008 | 822 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OURAY – In 2004 when Susie Opdahl started Weehawken Creative Arts with her husband, Jim, and DeAnn McDaniel, she assumed the roles of both board president and executive director. She quickly realized that taking on all of those duties was too much for one person and brought in Susan Lander as president, while she continued on as director.

Now the time has come for Opdahl to move back to the president position and hire a paid executive director – and that’s a good sign. In an economy that’s shrinking daily, Weehawken has been experiencing quite a bit of growth.

“If it hadn’t been successful, it wouldn’t have been worth all the work,” she explained.

Opdahl, whose nonprofit training came from reading the book Nonprofits for Dummies, is thrilled to be handing over a healthy organization. “The [new] executive director isn’t taking over an organization managing a crisis.”

Two part-time employees help contract instructors and put up fliers, but a more permanent face to lead the organization is now desirable, Opdahl said. The position will require someone ready to do a bit of everything, from managing the books, overseeing class registration, even dropping off leotards to the dance classes. The work-from-home position is “flexible and gives you a chance to meet a lot of great people,” Odahl said.

The nonprofit organization started with a budget of $500 and a staff of dedicated volunteers. Since its inception the organization has offered classes to 1,644 students, almost 600 of whom have taken part since July 2007. Currently, 80 kids are taking dance classes.

Opdahl said the impetus for forming the organization was to boost tourism in Ouray County. Though the organization serves mostly county residents, about 1/5 of students come from outside the county, and some of those from outside the country. This summer Weehawken will see a student from Scotland coming to study under the famed pastel artist Sally Strand, as well as a student from Tasmania.

Opdahl credits the growth to Weehawken’s expanded advertising campaign.

Weehawken, named after Weehawken Spring in Ouray and Weehawken Trail off Camp Bird Road, is funded by memberships, grants and an endowment. A more rigorous fundraising campaign is being planned.

Weehawken’s upcoming April classes include writing workshops, fine arts demonstrations and lectures, and cooking classes. Visit www.weehawkenarts.org for more information on classes and the new director position, or call Opdahl at 970/325-4005.

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