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Time for 'fresh blood' at MAC
Richard Daniels, executive director of the Monroe Arts Center, is stepping down after 13 years. He said he plans to pursue some personal endeavors. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - For more than a decade, Richard Daniels has overlooked the operation of Monroe Arts Center as the institution evolved from "the old Methodist church" to the prime location for concerts and gallery exhibits.

"The building is prominent and distinct," Daniels said. "I think we've achieved a new identity for the arts center. It's an important asset to the community."

Though not completely certain when he began his tenure with MAC, Daniels said he started just under 13 years ago. He worked to expand programming and activities. While overseeing the facility, Daniels saw the church exterior, the concert hall and the two-level lobby rehabilitated. There was a $3 million addition completed in August 2016, yet some work will continue past his time as director.

But Daniels said even as he officially steps down March 31, the center has "great potential" to grow and continues to bring in new visitors. MAC helps the local community both economically and socially, he noted, anticipating only positive progress in years to come.

In September, 51st Assembly Rep. Todd Novak championed a measure that would solely benefit MAC by providing $100,000 in grant funds if the facility managed to raise an equal amount first. Within a few weeks of its approval by state legislators, Daniels announced a family which wished to remain anonymous had donated the funds necessary to obtain the grant.

He has no worries over whether the facility will meet its most recent fundraising challenge either. In a plan announced Nov. 12 by Colony Brands CEO and President John Baumann, the Monroe Arts Center Challenge began. If the MAC Foundation raises another $100,000 for endowment by Saturday, Colony Brands will donate $700,000 to MAC. In total, the center will have acquired $1 million.

"When the tallies come in, we will be well above the required amounts," Daniels said. He added that without Colony Brands' generosity, not as many projects would be possible.

Daniels may have a planned final day of March 31, but the director intends to continue his duties until a replacement is hired. He said initial interviews by a search committee of the MAC Board of Directors has begun and three to four have yet to be conducted. There will likely be another round with fewer candidates, he said, noting he would know more at the end of the week.

A decade for a director "is considered optimum," Daniels said.

"I think it's time for me to move on and for fresh blood to come in and take over," Daniels said. "I'm proud for the organization and for the community."

MAC Board President Kevin Callahan said the organization feels great gratitude to Daniels "for his vision and work developing the programs and facilities," noting "it is truly becoming a regional institution" in a press release announcing an event at MAC to congratulate Daniels.

The open house, set for 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday at MAC, will give the public and those affiliated with MAC the chance to thank Daniels for his time as center director.