The Randolph County Community Arts Center Board of Directors has hired a new executive director, Kurt Barkley, to fill the position left vacant after the recent resignation of longtime Director Beth King.
Barkley, who grew up in Elkins, said he was ready to come home.
"I have been in Philadelphia for 17 years and worked in management for 10 years," Barkley said. "I have worked in non profit organizations for a good number of years, and have always wanted to do this kind of work."
Barkley said he has traveled a great deal, and taught in China.
"I was a foreign experts scholar and taught English and literature at China Coal Economic College and Yantai University," Barkley said. "I was a member of the Yantai Chamber of Commerce."
Barkley said he is excited to be a part of the change and growth of his hometown.
"Elkins has lots of different venues offering music and arts, and is going through a kind of renaissance," Barkley said. "The arts and this center have become integral to Randolph and all of the surrounding counties.
"I am so excited by the welcome I have received at the Randolph County Arts Center," Barkley said. "I have had many jobs before, but I have never received a welcome by the board of directors and volunteers like I have experienced here."
Barkley said he is very happy to be back in Randolph County. His parents, Jake and Mary Barkley, still live in Elkins.
"I am very lucky to be a part of the Randolph County Community Arts Center and be a part of everything going on here," Barkley said. "I look forward to everything this organization delivers to this community."
Newly hired development coordinator Amy Beth Smith will assist Barkley at the center.
"Growing up in Ripley, I was into the arts, including reading, music and dance," Smith said. "I have family members that paint, so this environment is organic and very natural for me. Also, my grandmother is a retired accountant, so this is in my blood. I remember helping her make copies before I went to school."
Working at the Arts Center combines what Smith says she loves with the special skills she possesses.
"I feel very fortunate to have this great opportunity," Smith said. "Growing up in Ripley, we had nothing like this center. I love that there is an organization in Randolph County that cultivates the love of the arts. People in my hometown always say wonderful things about the great art opportunities in Elkins and Randolph County.
"I think this center is essential to the community, and especially for the kids," Smith said. "It offers such a good form of expression, growth and learning. I wish I could have grown up with something like this. The Randolph County Community Arts Center is a safe haven for artists where they can come and do what they love to do. And people are appreciated and respected here. That isn't available in all towns."
Doreen Hall, board president of Arts Center, said the selection committee is very pleased to have Barkley and Smith on board.
"We interviewed a great number of highly qualified individuals and feel fortunate to have found a match," Hall said. "We are delighted to have both of them on our staff."
Hall said both Barkley and Smith hit the ground running.
"Kurt began work on Monday," Hall said. "On Tuesday, he was helping board member Gene Bolyard finish up two grants. It is amazing to have someone doing this work on their second day on the job."