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Arts Midwest announces leadership transition

Susan has been named Executive Director of Madeline Island Chamber MusicSusan T. Chandler, who joined Arts Midwest in 1986 as the organization’s first development and public relations coordinator, is leaving to accept the position of Executive Director of Madeline Island Chamber Music. Her last day with Arts Midwest will be September 30, 2017.

Arts Midwest’s President and CEO David Fraher stated, “Susan has been an integral part of Arts Midwest’s DNA for more than three decades. Her intellect, creativity, dedication, and commitment to excellence have provided a solid foundation for much of our work, and a great deal of our success. And while I will miss her as a partner and collaborator each and every day, I could not be happier for her as she moves to this next phase of her career.”

Susan has spent the majority of her 35-year career in the arts at Arts Midwest, most recently serving as its vice president. In that capacity, she has managed an array of regional, national, and international programs; successfully raised funds from private and public sources; and been a critical member of the leadership team.

During Susan’s tenure, Arts Midwest has more than tripled in size and expanded its programming exponentially. For almost 15 years Susan has nurtured a vital partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, leading national programming contracted by NEA to Arts Midwest. She has overseen Shakespeare in American Communities and NEA Big Read, which together grant more than $2 million to organizations annually, and previously also led NEA Jazz Masters Live programming, which funded tours of legendary jazz musicians nationally. For her work on these programs, she was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Chairman’s Medal.

Susan has been instrumental to the expansion of the Arts Midwest Conference during its 30-year history, guiding its attendance growth from 500 performing arts presenters and artists/managers to close to 1,100. She oversaw the recent successful development of Arts Midwest Folkefest, which will launch publicly in September. In the past ten years alone through various programs, Susan has directed the award of more than $31 million in grants benefiting more than seven million people in the Midwest and nationally. Additional highlights from her career at Arts Midwest include leading the organization’s recent strategic planning process which will propel the organization forward over the next three to five years; and spearheading a four-year audience engagement initiative, funded by the Wallace Foundation, that provided public forums and training on audience engagement to hundreds of Twin Cities arts organizations.

As a fundraiser, she generated contributions from corporate and foundation sources nationally, including a major grant from the Ford Foundation to develop an arts training program for culturally diverse arts administrators; funding from The Hearst Foundation for Arts Midwest World Fest; and major grants from the AT&T Foundation for theater and exhibition touring. In 2000-2001, she oversaw fundraising and publicity for the Midwest retrospective museum exhibition Illusions of Eden: Visions of the American Heartland that toured to four cities in the U.S. as well as to Vienna and Budapest.

“I have loved all the opportunities I’ve had at Arts Midwest,” said Susan. “Leaving the organization is definitely bittersweet for me. I’ve had the chance to learn about and work in many arts disciplines; travel across the Midwest, nationally, and internationally to plan and implement programs; and partner with hundreds of different arts organizations and supporters.”

Most of all, I’ve had the privilege to work with an incredibly talented group of people at Arts Midwest, each of whom I’ll miss. My professional identity has been indelibly shaped by Arts Midwest.
—Susan Chandler

Speaking on behalf of Arts Midwest’s Board of Directors, Chair Peter Capell said, “Susan’s many contributions to Arts Midwest, spanning more than 30 years, have made her an integral part of the fabric and history of our organization. While she will be missed by all, we are thankful for her leadership over her time with us and thrilled that she has the opportunity to move on to what is truly a lifelong passion.”

Susan earned a Master of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Bachelor of Music degree from Lawrence University, both in piano performance. Her previous professional experience includes positions with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and a Minneapolis-based development consulting firm. She is the Vice Chair of the Edina Arts & Culture Commission, an active volunteer and former Alumni Association Board member of Lawrence University, and an alumna of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute.

Founded in 1985, Madeline Island Chamber Music provides intensive chamber music study and performance opportunities for talented young musicians in a structured, residential environment. The campus is located on Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands, in Lake Superior.

About Arts Midwest

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 30 years.