SVAC welcomes new Executive Director

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MANCHESTER — Elizabeth Paxon has an acute sense for building brand awareness, stemming from her rich background in the fashion industry, and she plans to use it in her new role as executive director of the Southern Vermont Arts Center.

Paxon, a native of Winooski and a graduate of the University of Vermont, succeeds interim director Joan Teaford, who had led SVAC since July of 2016.

"My family and I moved to Dorset almost two years ago, and this became something very much of interest to me," said Paxon. "I would love to serve the community in promoting the arts, and nurturing our visual and performing artists in the community."

Paxon will work closely with Teaford to assure a smooth transition in leadership for the organization.

"Our existing team and Executive Director Joan Teaford have done an amazing job this past year of really setting a very strong foundation of operations, and looking at all of the programs we offer," said Paxon. "Going into 2018, it's so important for us to continue those, and then really engage the community to support what we're doing either by attending it or supporting it on a financial level."

"Joan has done an amazing job to organize the staff and shows. We hope to build on that in the community," said Board President Judi McCormick. "Just moving into the future with some interesting programs, and things that will excite people to come up, is a big goal."

Paxon brings to SVAC a unique business background, serving in a number of key positions with major luxury brands like Etro, Malo/Gianfranco Ferre, and Valentino. She has successfully created and managed partnerships with major retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

"Elizabeth gave me the sense that translating from the fashion industry into the arts does give her the same kind of vision to just physically understand colors and space and texture and all of the things artists want an executive director to know about," said McCormick. "They can feel confident that she has this background of sensitivity to the artists members needs as well as any of the performing artists."

"I think that it's so important to understand how to convey that work in terms of creativity, whether it's to a visitor whose coming here and experiencing it or a donor who wants to be part of it," said Paxon. "It's a beautiful thing when you bring those things together, whether it's in fashion or in art, and what the possibilities are for what can happen with that."

According to McCormick, Paxon comes to the Arts Center at a time when the board is strong and ready to serve.

"We have a really strong board now with people who are working to bring the Arts Center into much more focus with a lot of people in the community," said McCormick. "We're all looking forward to this, so it's kind of fun to be on this sort of edge of taking off and flying."

Going forward, the team at SVAC hopes to continually increase their involvement with the Manchester community.

"I remember going to graduate school and thinking that art is life," said McCormick. "The Arts Center can really be a part of so many things downtown, it doesn't just have to be the specific visual arts of painting or sculpture or music performance."

"It is a long tradition in our community, and one that I believe needs to have a vibrant future," said Paxon. "I want to be a part of that."



Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.

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