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Dec 8, 2010 6:47 PM by David Ortiviz

Arts center bids farewell to influential leader

Maggie Divelbiss is retiring as Executive Director of the Sangre De Cristo Arts Center in Pueblo after 38 years. Next week there will be a farewell reception to honor her contributions to the arts.

Divelbiss has worked for the arts center almost from the beginning. It opened in the early 70s. "I was like the fourth employee," said Divelbiss.

Divelbiss would eventually become the Executive Director. She built the center into a regional attraction for art, theatre, dance and a children's museum--which has been ranked as one of best in the entire country! "It is very very satisfying but I've had a lot of people help, lots of good generous people, lots of good generous staff," said Divelbiss.

Now, after 38 years Divelbiss will retire on December 31, 2010. "Because I'm getting old," said Divelbiss.

Older--but still feisty. She's been a vocal critic of schools for cutting art programs and says that's why the arts center's primary mission is education. "It is very very satisfying but I've had a lot of people help, lots of good generous people, lots of good generous staff," said Divelbiss. "I always thought the arts center would be the frosting on the cake, but we're having to be the cake and it's almost impossible," she added.

But her efforts and decades of dedication have been recognized by her peers.Divelbiss has earned numerous awards for leadership and excellence in the Arts and Humanities. "I will miss the people I work with and I will miss it, there's no doubt about it," said Divelbiss. And there's no doubt she will be missed--as perhaps Pueblo's most influential advocate for the arts.

Bill Mercer will take over as Executive Director of the arts center. He's worked for museums in Portland and Cincinnati.

As for Divelbiss, she says she'll continue to be involved with the Broadway Theater League of Pueblo.

A retirement party/farewell reception will be held  for Divelbiss in the Helen T. White Galleries at the arts center on Dec. 15 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be a cash bar and complimentary hors d'oeuvres will be served.

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