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Change of scenery; Knoebel says goodbye as executive director of the AACA

By Nate Brinkman

The Austin Area Commission for the Arts said goodbye to Executive Director Jennie Knoebel Tuesday night at the Austin Area Arts Center.

After five years as the director of the AACA Knoebel is headed to Des Moines, Iowa, to become the arts learning manager for the Iowa Arts Council.

Knoebel was at the helm during a busy time for the AACA, as it added the Austin ArtWorks Festival and the Austin ArtWorks Center.

“She was the one working hard to establish and expand the ArtWorks Festival and also to establish the Austin Area Arts center,” said Artworks Center office manager Kelsey Ritchie.

Knoebel gets a hug from Sue Grove.

Knoebel gets a hug from Sue Grove.

Ritchie said Knoebel was truly instrumental in making many things happen for the AACA.

“From the time she started until now Jennie has totally changed the art scene in our community,” she said.

In her new position, Knoebel will develop new programming that will partner nonprofit arts and culture organizations with K-12, colleges and universities, and lifetime learners.

“I’m really looking forward to working to incorporate art into education,” Knoebel said. “In bringing professional artists into a school environment, kids can see first hand that they can make a career out of art and I think that is important.”

Knoebel, who thinks of herself as more of a creator than a sustainer, thinks this job will be a better fit for her personally because of the current direction of the AACA, which will now continue working on what Knoebel started.

Austin Area Commission for the Arts Executive Director Jennie Knoebel talks with guests during her send-off party Tuesday night at the Austin ArtWorks Center.  Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Austin Area Commission for the Arts Executive Director Jennie Knoebel talks with guests during her send-off party Tuesday night at the Austin ArtWorks Center.
Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“We are kind of at a point in the organization where we need more of an expert in maintaining and keeping things going versus creating new, and my specialty is definitely in new creation probably more so than keeping something going,” Knoebel said.

The future of the AACA is now looking toward expanding the historic Paramount theatre to include an expanded lobby and main floor bathroom. The work could also add dressing rooms and a backstage area. Another possibility would be a multipurpose rehearsal room. The total cost of the project is estimated to be between $4 and $7 million.

Former Yoga Studio of Austin owner Lindsey Kepper will take over for Knoebel as interim executive director of the AACA.

—Jason Schoonover contributed to this report.