Red Carpet Rollout for Marathon County Executive Committee

By: Kathy Kelsey Foley, director on July 16th, 2014

Under the cliché heading of either “be careful what you wish for” or “life is like a box of chocolates,” I don’t think I could have anticipated the multiple positive outcomes when Marathon County administrator Brad Karger asked if the Executive Committee could hold its monthly meeting at the Woodson Art Museum.

I didn’t have to think twice about my willingness to roll out the red carpet. To my delight, the Wednesday, July 9, meeting vastly exceeded my expectations.

The meeting agenda kicked off with an educational presentation and discussion about how the arts help build a community in which people want to live and that’s good for business. No surprise, this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

Museum director Kathy Kelsey Foley meets with Marathon County Executive Committee members

What made the conversation so productive – especially from my perspective – was that for four of nine Executive Committee members, the meeting represented a first visit to the Woodson Art Museum. Each and every visitor is important to me, but for first-time visitors I have an opportunity to create “who knew?” and “wow” responses that likely will be shared with family and friends. It’s human nature to want to tell others about something you’ve experienced for the first time or anew; a terrific potential unexpected outcome from the meeting.

As I talked about the varied ways the Museum serves the community – from Art Babies to SPARK! programs and through wide-ranging exhibitions, visiting artists, and hands-on learning – there were nods of approval, surprised expressions, insightful questions, and comments stemming from personal experiences that demonstrated the broad reach and intensity of the Museum’s impact.

Kathy Foley talks with County Executive Committee members

I remained at the table for the entirety of the Executive Committee meeting – three hours! – and I was fascinated by the discussions, depth of knowledge, engagement, and civility. I had multiple “takeaways” from the meeting, not the least of which was the number and variety of issues the County Board must address. While I know the departments and services that are the County’s responsibility, I hadn’t previously considered how needs and priorities are determined, especially in light of budget allocations and the tax rate. The County’s challenges, which impact the quality of life here, are significant and residents need to be informed.

Quality of life is a catch-all phrase often used by museums and cultural and recreational attractions when we collectively talk about how what we do enhances our communities. I stand by that thinking and steadfastly believe the Woodson Art Museum contributes significantly to the high quality of life we enjoy in Marathon County.

Continuing to reflect on the Executive Committee meeting, I also realize in a profound way how the discussions and interactions I observed affect other vitally important quality-of-life issues, including the jail and incarceration, drug abuse and treatment, child safety, farmland, and County infrastructure.

Brad Karger, County employees, and County supervisors – including the nine members of the Executive Committee – have a lot on their respective plates, some of which we might take for granted. These folks deserve our thanks and respect for stepping up to ensure that Marathon County is where we want to live, work, raise our families, and enjoy the quality of life here.

If you haven’t visited the Woodson Art Museum recently – or previously – make a point to do so and learn what County Executive Committee members did . . . that the Art Museum is one of the assets that makes our community great.

We roll out the figurative red carpet for every visitor!

View of Woodson Art Museum main entrance









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