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Cobb stepping down as FAC executive director

Will take over as director of MTC’s Harbison Theatre in August

Posted: July 6, 2017 5:06 p.m.
Updated: July 7, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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In 1988, her senior year at Camden High School, Kristin was the Music Art Drama (MAD) Festival’s “Mad Girl” and was featured on the promotional poster for the festival.

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Kristin Cobb, executive director of the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County, is stepping down from the post she has held for 10 years at the end of July.

Cobb, who first came on board as the FAC’s marketing director in 2004 and became executive director in 2007, will take on the role of director of the Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College. She starts in her new position effective Aug. 1.

“It has been a difficult decision,” Cobb said. “The Fine Arts Center has been such a wonderful and important part of my life.” 

However, the opportunity with the Harbison Theatre was one she simply felt she had to take, Cobb said.

“It’s going to offer new challenges and, yes; it’s a little scary, but I am looking forward to it,” she said. “I am so honored and blessed to have been part of all this -- I couldn’t have had a better experience than with this group of people, our board, this community. It’s been wonderful. But after 10 years, it’s time.”

FAC Board Chairman Boyd Black praised Cobb’s work over the years, noting that the FAC and the community will miss her.

“It has been a pleasure working with such a consummate professional as Kristin Cobb,” Black said. “The Fine Arts Center has been fortunate to have had her as executive director for the past 10 years. Her love for and promotion of the Arts will be missed throughout Kershaw County and beyond. We wish her well in her new position."

Black also announced that Rose Sheheen, a former board member and board chair, has agreed to serve as interim executive director. 

“I am thrilled Rose is willing to help us out for a couple of months,” he said.

He also said the board has formed a search committee to find a permanent executive director, with a goal of having someone in the position by October.

Cobb became an employee of the FAC in 2004, but she has been actively involved with it since she was in high school, she said. The FAC provided Cobb a stable creative outlet during a major change in her life -- her family moved to Camden from Texas while she was in high school.

“I was one of Larry’s kids,” she said, referring to former artistic/theatre director Larry Hembree.  “I think I was involved in every single show during high school. If I wasn’t onstage, I would find something to do behind the scenes – of course, I really enjoyed being onstage.”

But the true value of the FAC, at least to Cobb, is the way it so positively impacts lives and brings people from all walks of life together, she said.

“The center brought kids together from all over and provided that space, support and opportunity to forge lifelong friendships,” she said. “We were from all areas of the county -- we may never have known each other at all if it hadn’t been for this place. That resonates so very deeply with me and I’ve tried to take that into my leadership style. I think it’s vital that we bring people together -- that’s what the arts do and why it’s so important.”

Cobb said she is pleased with the direction the FAC is going and believes her administration has done its best not only to grow arts education and performance programs but to maintain and add to the physical campus itself.  She said she has tried to remain sensitive to the ideals and vision of past boards and administrations while at the same time planning for the future.

“I joke that I’ve replaced every air conditioner in here, but the fact is, this is a large facility and there are things that must be done to maintain it,” she said. “We have tried very hard to do that.”

During her tenure, for example, upgrades to the Wood Auditorium were done, including new professional lighting, stage curtains and sound system. 

One project she said she is proud to have been a part of is the addition of the Jim and Pat Watts Performing Arts Wing. With the addition of the space, which is a black box theatre, not only was extra space freed for proper storage of everything from stage props to the center’s very fine Steinway concert grand piano, but it also created another separate classroom, performance and event space.

On the education side, the education wing is always busy. The FAC has full dance and theatre classes and currently keeps a number of voice, piano, and stringed instrument teachers busy, she said.

Cobb said she hopes the community continues to support and embrace the FAC. In trying and uncertain times, she said she understands the difficulty in maintaining such a unique and well developed facility and in finding the continuing financial support to do it.

“The difference the FAC makes in the community, the positive impact it makes on so many lives, is vital to the quality of life here,” she said.  “I’ve had people tell me they weren’t sure they had made the right decision moving to Camden until they came to an FAC event. So, clearly, it is very important with regard to quality of life. I just hope and pray people realize that and continue to support it.”

Cobb said she will continue to support the FAC and the arts in Kershaw County to the best of her ability. 

“I’m going to miss it -- I just couldn’t have had a better experience,” she said. “The FAC really is part of my soul, very much a part of who I am. It has been a major part of my life and of my children’s lives and I will really miss being part of that energy on a daily basis.”

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