Malin reflects on leaving after six years at MVCA
Jane Mallin (left) sings with Julia Grippe during a cabaret show at the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts in August 2019.
by Dave Warner
Jane Malin is retiring after leading the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts for the past six years and wanted to share a few observations about her tenure as CEO. “I was basically trying to retire from SRA International, Inc. I was writing government grants and proposals and came home one day and Kevin Mohalley (former Art Center executive director) called me. Obviously, he and Sharon Collins had decided this was where I needed to be as they were looking for a replacement for Kevin.
“Basically I said you were kidding and dialed the wrong number.” I knew Kevin and Sharon and they were actively looking for a GM, but I wasn’t looking, ”she said.
Malin said she decided to go talk to them because she had all the business and writing skills they were looking for. “So they took a chance on me and off we went.”
She already had extensive musical experience and was familiar with the arts. “One of the changes I made to the Art Center was my background in the performing arts,” she said.
The Art Center had some financial problems when it started and that was something that needed to be tackled right away. Malin campaigned for membership and then renegotiated all of their fixed costs. “We were able to roughly cut the expenses in half, and we started over. We kept our teachers and our classes as best we could. “
Malin said there were two documents that helped guide her. One was a community survey that had been done very well and the other was the council’s 2020 vision document, which was a five-year plan.
“The strategic plan has become my Bible. Over the six years we have been able to accomplish everything that is in the plan. I was quite proud of it, ”she said.
Part of the plan was to increase the number of members and classes and to move to places like high schools. “We did more workshops to bring the kids. The STEAM programs and the Youth Art Month exhibit each year in the gallery, as well as chalk art on the bridge, to keep the kids coming.
They’ve also expanded their art classes to places like Alpine Rehabilitation & Nursing Center to bring seniors into the mix. At one point, they are also looking to take their classes at Valley Residential.
Now that the COVID rules have been lifted, they have a full list of course offerings for the summer and fall.
Malin says she doesn’t want to put any pressure on the new principal, but she hopes that in five or six years they’ll be busy with classes. “Some kind of thing all day and every day.”
One of the things she started at MVCA was called “Art for Health”. “Under this umbrella, I did Tai Chi, Meditation and Zentangle, as well as healthy cooking. These things were really needed, especially for the middle age group who are stressed out from working hard every day. “
“I think we could do a lot more with this. There is also a lot more we can do with music. We don’t have enough music lessons here. We have vocals, we have strings, we have saxophone, but a full complement to some of the music lessons that would help schools cut down on their curricula.
Malin said she always had people asking her for piano lessons and that she was delighted to see there was more interest in dancing, with the movies being set in Little Falls.
She said, “If we are truly an arts center then there are so many other things we could do that we are not doing yet. We could have small satellite communities in Dolgeville and Herkimer and expand into those other cities and develop them that way. “
Malin also said she would love if they had more space. “I cried when we lost the use of the Masonic temple because there was a nice performance space and it had a floor space big enough for you to accommodate a large cocktail party and that sort of thing. . “
She said she also met people who said they had never heard of the art center. “It’s better now, but it’s not fixed yet.”
Malin also felt like he had been able to distinguish between the business side and the artistic side of things. “You have to have people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the job and you have to have the money to support it.”
“We are very lucky. We started with money problems five or six years ago and now money is not our problem. I’m not saying we can’t use more, we always can, especially for particular programs.
She is also proud of the fact that they have resisted the COVID virus after being shut down for over a year. “We created it! It’s a huge statement and it’s only because we care about the pennies. I’m really proud of what this team has accomplished. It’s been awesome.
The last piece she’s proud of is the fact that they were pushing hard to complete their tech upgrade. “Thanks to the generosity and grant funding from UpVentures and the work of Embella, we were able to create the website and we set up a point of sale system, which helped automate everything from the gift shop with the possibility of registering for courses and the possibility of accepting donations online.
“We have also automated the list of members and we now send newsletters automatically. That’s all we didn’t have before, ”she said.
The MVCA has been looking for a new CEO since Malin announced his intentions. Responsible for the administration of the MVCA and reporting to a volunteer board of directors, the CEO will guide the organization in achieving its mission and strategic plan.
If you are interested in the position, go to: https://www.mohawkvalleyarts.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Job-Posting-2021.pdf