By Wayne Towner
Special to the Times
PARKERSBURG - For a second consecutive year, Artsbridge officials were able to meet and exceed their fundraising goal for the 2012 Arts Fund Drive.
Lee Rector, president of Artsbridge's Board of Directors, and John Wharff, this year's fund drive chairman, announced Monday at the Blennerhassett Hotel that Artsbridge raised $139,024, exceeding its goal of $130,000.
Artsbridge works to support arts-related programs in Wood and Washington counties that range from educational and school-based programs and re-granting money to other arts organizations in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Artsbridge organizes community events such as the Artsbridge Summer Music Series, the Very Special Arts Festival and last week's Artsbridge Summer Kids' Festival and Concert at City Park and in Marietta.
Last year's fund drive, which was chaired by Camden Clark Medical Center President and CEO Mike King, raised $120,085, just over the $120,000 goal for the 2011 drive.
Wharff said this year's fund drive got off to a strong start due to a $10,000 challenge grant from the Fenton Foundation in March. The fund drive's organizers were able to build from that and continue strongly, he said.
"We certainly appreciate everybody's help here and the opportunity, from my standpoint, to look at it as an opportunity to be able to go out and talk to people," he said.
During Monday's meeting, Rector recognized John Hoffman, Artsbridge's executive director, for his work with the organization over the last three-and-a-half years. Hoffman is retiring effective July 31, but said he hopes to remain active with Artsbridge in a volunteer capacity.
"John has given Artsbridge a direction and leadership that we needed three years ago. He got us over some humps and has always been very conscientious as the fund drive goes and helping get the funds we needed to keep Artsbridge alive," he said.
The search for a new executive director is under way. Rector said the board's search committee hopes to be able to name Hoffman's successor by early September.
As his retirement date approaches, Hoffman said he was glad to be able to leave Artsbridge on a positive note like the success of this year's Arts Fund Drive.
"It's just fantastic. It's all been the growth of relationships and people and the arts organizations within the Mid-Ohio Valley," he said.
Hoffman believes this is the right time for Artsbridge to hire a new executive director, especially if it can find someone who can better tap into the growing social media and make that work for Artsbridge and its programs.