By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
When Denae Weber resigned her post as director of the Baker Arts Center in February, the board began its search for someone to fill that important spot.
On Tuesday, that position was awarded to Toni Smith, who has worked with the Baker Arts Center as its bookkeeper for the last seven years. She applied for the position after Weber’s departure and was awarded the job after the interview process.
“The events here at Baker have always been very important to me, whether it’s been an exhibit opening, whether it’s a fundraiser, it’s important that Baker and the public knows how accessible it is to them – it is a community center,” she said. “I want and hope within the next couple years that the public sees that in a better light.”
Before taking the bookkeeping position at the center, Smith said she worked as a wedding coordinator and was only looking for a part-time job. After talking to staff at Sunrise Staffing Services, she was sent to the center and has been there ever since. Smith added she does still do some wedding coordinating in her spare time.
Smith said she has also learned quite a bit about the arts from her fellow co-workers since she started at the center, including the differences between different types of paintings and other such information.
“As we grow up we think of art as just pictures on the wall and they opened up to mind to just about everything we do in life and everything we see is in some way a form of art,” Smith said. “Whether it’s the glasses we wear that someone designed, the clothes we wear, those types of things. So they really opened up my mind to learning more about the arts and appreciating them more, so that was very helpful to me, and I was excited to learn something new.”
Smith said she hopes that during her time as director, the center can expand and the community can feel more comfortable going there for events and fundraisers, which help the center keep going. She also said she would like to see the Baker Arts Center host new types of workshops that can include the entire community.
“I would like to see more of the community involved in the way we have a variety of workshops from adult to children to mixed in any way whether it be music, dance, theater, I would like to see all of those teaching things go on here,” Smith said. “I would love to see and look forward to trying to implement some of those programs. I would love to bring in some outside teachers to try and help with some of those workshops. I would love to see something here once a month whether it be a jam night, a food night, just all different kinds of things.”
Smith said upon learning she had received the position, she was both excited and overwhelmed, and she looks forward to working with the Baker Arts Center as the new director.
“Some things I’m going to learn, I know that, but I also know with contacts and help and volunteers that it can be done, so I’m honored that I was chosen and put in this position, and I hope I do it justice,” Smith said.
Big Ta Do at the Zoo
• L&T staff report
Baker Arts appreciation day will be Saturday, June 28, at the El Rancho Exotica Zoo.
This event is $12 per person with a 50 percent discount for those who have joined between May 1 and June 15 and 25 percent off for those who join after June 15.
This event is open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. with activities including face painting, bounce house, relay games, ice sculpture and chalk drawings.
The evening event is for Baker Arts members only from 7 p.m. to midnight with food and entertainment.
“Please mark your calendar as the event you just can’t miss,” said director Toni Smith.
Call Baker Arts at 524-2810 for more information.