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Knoebel leaves big shoes to fill

Austin has seen an arts resurgence in the last five years, and Jennie Knoebel has been one of the people at the front lines of that change.

But now Austin is bidding farewell to Knoebel this week as she leaves her post as executive director of the Austin Area Commission for the Arts to start next month as arts learning manager for the Iowa Arts Council.

Knoebel deserves thanks for providing strong leadership during a pivotal five years in Austin arts. She leaves big shoes to fill.

She started in 2011 as the Austin Area Commission for the Arts’ first full-time employee and first executive director.

She leaves behind an organization that now oversees the Austin ArtWorks Festival, the Austin ArtWorks Center, and is looking ahead to expanding the Paramount Theatre.

“We’ve expanded a lot,” Knoebel said. “And I feel like we’ve expanded enough to fill the needs of the community.”

A prime example is last weekend’s fifth annual Austin ArtWorks Festival, which brought more than 7,000 to Austin. Like all the arts projects, dozens of volunteers and board members contributed to the efforts, but Knoebel has provided a strong base of leadership.

We wish her well and look forward to the commission finding a full-time replacement to carry the torch into the next chapter.