South Arts Appoints New Executive Director

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South Arts is pleased to announce the appointment of Suzette (Susie) Surkamer as executive director.

South Arts is pleased to announce the appointment of Suzette (Susie) Surkamer as executive director effective December 6, 2012.

“Susie brings to South Arts a wealth of experience in the field, with a large network of professional contacts and associations within the region and across the country,” said Margaret S. Mertz, South Arts board chair. “Her legendary energy and vision, along with her knowledge of South Arts over time, are a vital part of her leadership profile. She is an entrepreneurial, strategic and innovative thinker, and we will benefit from those skills as together we position South Arts for future growth over the coming years.”

Surkamer spent 35 years dedicating her career to the development of a thriving arts environment in South Carolina. Her work with the South Carolina Arts Commission began in 1974 when she joined the Commission as a dancer-in-residence. In 1994 she became executive director of the Commission. Guided by her vision, the agency earned a national reputation as a leader in the arts for its work in arts education reform, rural arts development, design arts and other initiatives.

Surkamer’s work in strengthening partnerships has led to significant service to the arts field. Formerly, she was on the South Arts board for 15 years and board chair from 2002 – 2004, Treasurer of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, member of the national Arts Education Partnership Steering Committee, the Coca-Cola Scholarship National Selection Committee, Clemson University President’s Advisory Committee, and the Winthrop University Board of Visitors. Surkamer is currently the Immediate Past President of the board of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and serves on the board of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and the SC Arts Alliance.

In 2006 Winthrop University awarded her its distinguished Medal of Honor in the Arts, and in 2008, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies recognized her with the Gary Young Award, its highest honor for individual achievement.

“I am extremely honored to have been chosen for this leadership role and look forward to building on the past accomplishments of South Arts and leading South Arts into the future at a time when the arts world is changing so rapidly,” says Surkamer.

Since January, 2012, Surkamer has been the membership consultant for South Arts’ ArtsReady project. Surkamer earned a M.Ed. in dance education from George Washington University and a B.A. in dance from the University of Maryland.

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