Margaret Hunt, who led Utah arts organizations through the brutal 2008 economic downturn and urged them to adapt to the Internet era, is leaving her post as director of the Utah Division of Arts and Museums for a new post in Colorado.
"It’s been my honor and privilege to serve the people of Utah," Hunt said in a statement released Wednesday. "I leave the Division of Arts and Museums in the good hands of an exceptionally bright, talented and professional team of colleagues."
Appointed in 2005 by Gov. Jon Huntsman as executive director of the Utah Arts Council, later known as the Arts and Museums Division under the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts, Hunt first distinguished her leadership during a "listening tour" of the state to discover what Utah’s small communities wanted in terms of support for arts programs.
Hunt drew occasional controversy in 2009 when, under budget pressures in a shrinking economy, she decided to cut funds to the state’s folk arts programs. Some also felt her emphasis on modernizing arts organizations to adapt to the forces of Internet technology was rushed.
Through it all, Hunt maintained that arts organizations everywhere must change or risk losing sight of their mission. One of her constant refrains in favor of arts was their economic impact. Without the arts, she often said, Utah’s economy would lose more than 40,000 jobs.
"Margaret Hunt’s service and dedication to Utah’s arts community has been an asset to the state," Julie Fisher, executive director of Utah’s Department of Heritage & Arts, said in Wednesday’s statement. "We are saddened by the news that she is leaving, but hope she will continue to be a friend to Utah’s arts communities."
Hunt leaves her Utah post to become new director of the Colorado Creative Industries, a division of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
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