The Arts Partnership and the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts will merge this summer, an arrangement that some in the community already assumed was the case.

“I think a lot of people still think we are one and the same, which is just another reason for us to merge together,” said Donna Ridenour, interim director of The Arts Partnership.

Aside from ending that confusion, the merger will expand and make formal the collaboration that already exists between the organizations.

“We have a very common mission,” Marathon Center Executive Director Heather Clow said of the two. “We want arts for everybody. So it makes sense for us to come together to achieve that.”

All Arts Partnership programs and community events, such as Youtheatre, Boogie on Main, Winefest, Feast on the Street, and Courtyard Concerts will continue under the Marathon Center.

“Their programming will absolutely continue and thrive and grow,” Clow said.

The Arts Partnership has focused on arts education for youth, and “this allows us to broaden that to include education for adults as well,” Ridenour said. “We just didn’t have the capacity to do that prior to this.”

Arts Partnership employees Craig VanRenterghem, education director, and Kelda Heitkamp, event director, will be moving to the Marathon Center offices at 200 W. Main Cross St.

Ridenour will keep her interim director position and remain at the Arts Partnership’s 618 S. Main St. office until the merger is effective July 1.

The executive committee of the Arts Partnership board of directors will merge with the Marathon Center’s board, while the rest of the Arts Partnership’s board will become members of an arts education committee, Ridenour said.

“We know that TAP has long and loyal donors, and they are still able to specifically support educational programming,” Clow said. “So if they’re supporting TAP because they believe in arts education, they can still do that. They don’t have to make a general donation to MCPA. They can support specifically the educational programming.”

Clow said discussions about a potential merger began before she became the Marathon Center’s executive director in January 2017.

“When the center was built, it was almost an expectation that this would happen eventually,” she said.

The Arts Partnership explored that idea around the time the Marathon Center was being built, Ridenour said.

“It was just a matter of timing. The timing wasn’t right then,” she said.

Collaboration between the organizations has been growing since Clow’s arrival, and the need for a new Arts Partnership executive director contributed to the timing of the merger.

Previous Arts Partnership Executive Director Peggy Grandbois resigned in December.

The Arts Partnership was founded in 1979 and was then called the Findlay Area Arts Council. The Marathon Center for the Performing Arts opened in December 2015.

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