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Arts Obispo’s executive director stepping down after 6 months on job

Leona Guidace, executive director of Arts Obispo, is leaving.
Leona Guidace, executive director of Arts Obispo, is leaving. Courtesy photo

After six months at the helm of the nonprofit Arts Obispo, executive director Leona Guidace is stepping down to be closer to her children in Bakersfield.

Guidace, who started her position in February, will stay on until Aug. 24 as the organization searches for her replacement.

“As Arts Obispo moves forward with dynamic impact, I will be stepping down,” Guidace said in a statement. “I will be spending more time with my children and family during these busy seasons ahead. ... I have been truly blessed to have worked with such a dynamic and gracious board.”

Guidace replaced Angela Tahti, who held the executive director position from April 2015 to January.

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Members of the Board of Directors credit Guidace for helping line up new downtown pop-up gallery locations (including one in the Creamery), her work to generate new revenues, and encouraging community events, among other contributions.

The organization has grown its Art After Dark program and celebrates the 20th year of its Open Studios Arts Tour, through which county artists open their studios to the public.

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Catherine Hall, a senior at Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo, participates in a countywide Poetry Out Loud competition in 2010. It’s one of several programs overseen by Arts Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council. Courtesy photo.

The salary range for the new executive director is expected to be between $42,000 and $45,000 per year with vacation, and no other benefits, said Peggy Sonoda, president of the organization’s Board of Directors.

“As a small nonprofit, we constantly battle the need for donor outreach and relations, which is tough when we have such a tiny and overextended staff,” Sonoda said. “Our board, with Leona’s help, has focused this year on revenue generation, but it’s not an overnight process.”

Guidace had been living in Morro Bay, while her children remained and lived with family members in Bakersfield, Sonoda said.

“Her young kids need her,” Sonoda said. “She was trying to bring them over and enroll her kids in school here. But it just didn’t work out. We’re sad to see her go, but we’re excited about all the great things happening at Arts Obispo and we hope she can stay on and serve on our advisory board.”

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Arts Obispo runs the Art After Dark program in San Luis Obispo. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Arts Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council and the local partner of the California Arts Council, has a mission that “advances the visual, literary and performing arts through programs that promote public access to the arts, arts in educational settings, local arts planning and collaboration, and opportunities for artists and arts organizations.”

Sonoda said that with Guidace’s departure, the organization is assessing its staffing structure as a whole “to see what makes sense going forward.”

And the organization’s new multipurpose art space, The Hub, at 1040 Court St. near Peet’s Coffee, will soon display works by local artists and offer workshops. A gallery reception will be held Sept. at 6 at 5 pm. immediately following the Central Coast Creative Economy Forum.

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Nick Wilson: 805-781-7922, @NickWilsonTrib
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