Julie Richard, who has directed the Maine Arts Commission since 2012, will leave her post in Augusta next month to return to Arizona, where she will direct the Sedona Art Center.

“This has not been an easy decision for me,” Richard wrote in her letter of resignation. “I care deeply about the arts and culture sector in Maine and I am very proud of what has been accomplished during my tenure.”

David Greenham, the commission’s chairman, thanked Richard for her service and wished her well. “I am very happy for Julie and also very grateful for the work she has done in Maine to bring the arts commission forward in so many areas,” he said in a phone interview. An interim director likely will be named in a few weeks, while the commission begins looking for a replacement, he said.

Julie Richard Courtesy of Maine Arts Commission

In a news release announcing Richard’s departure, the commission cited her work to create a statewide cultural plan in 2015, her efforts to reform the agency’s grant programs and the creation of an advocacy and support organization for the state’s cultural sector, ArtsEngageMe. She also oversaw a statewide census of arts education in Maine and instituted the biennial Maine International Conference on the Arts.

Greenham said Richard and her staff have been responsive to the pandemic, taking on at least two extra grant programs since March to help artists and arts organizations. “That’s a lot of work and a big process, and that was on top of all the regular work they do with the grant programs,” he said.

In a typical year, the commission processes about 450 grant applications across multiple programs and artistic disciplines. In 2020, it reviewed and processed 1,421 successful grants to provide emergency relief with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and CARES Act.

Richard did not respond to an email to discuss her time in Maine. In a news release, she thanked her colleagues for their commitment to the arts. “I am extremely proud of and grateful for the Maine Arts Commission staff,” she said in a statement. “They have contributed significantly to our success and deserve huge accolades for their service, especially during this past year.  It will be very hard to say goodbye to them.”

Richard is married to the painter Ed Buonvecchio.

Before moving to Maine in 2012, Richard worked as CEO of the West Valley Arts Council in Phoenix for eight years. Before that, she directed the Metropolitan Arts Council in Greenville, South Carolina, and the Tulsa Opera in Oklahoma, and worked as development director at the Syracuse Opera in New York, which she later directed.

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