Juan de Fuca Foundation seeking new director

Kyle LeMaire to step down after Memorial Day festival

  • By Diane Urbani de la Paz For Peninsula Daily News
  • Saturday, March 30, 2024 1:30am
  • NewsClallam County
Kyle LeMaire.

Kyle LeMaire.

PORT ANGELES — The 31-year-old Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts is in the midst of a transition, including the search for a new executive director.

Kyle LeMaire, chief of the nonprofit organization since August 2021, will leave the job soon after the Juan de Fuca Festival May 24-26.

“I love this organization more than anything in the world,” LeMaire said this week.

Yet it’s time to move on, he said, adding he has arts-related work in his future but can’t yet disclose specifics.

“For me and my family, it’s the right move, for more time and more work-life balance,” said LeMaire, 41.

The executive director role, after many years as a part-time position, is now full time with a salary of $68,000 to $75,000, according to the job description at JFFA.org.

Found under the Get Involved heading on the home page, the description notes the executive director “manages all marketing efforts, community outreach and engagement, the technical production of all events (both live and virtual), and volunteer coordination.”

The executive director is the chief fundraiser and manages an annual budget of $350,000.

JFFA organizes the multifaceted May festival, 10 summertime Concerts on the Pier, a July youth camp, several school music programs and a variety of performing arts events throughout the year.

“We’re absolutely looking for someone who has lots of enthusiasm for creative programming and event production,” said Kayla Oakes, a former JFFA executive director who is vice president of the board.

“It would be amazing,” she said, “if we found two or three really strong candidates toward the end of April. Then we would invite people for interviews,” and if there’s a standout applicant come Juan de Fuca Festival time, “we could have them shadow [the crew] and live the festival with us.”

The lineup for the 2024 festival will be unveiled at JFFA.org this Monday. Tickets to the Memorial Day weekend event, which spreads across stages at the Vern Burton Community Center, the Elks Naval Lodge ballroom and Field Arts & Events Hall, will go on sale at the same time.

When LeMaire was asked what advice he’d give the new executive director, he said it’s key to keep JFFA’s mission top of mind. That mission is giving the local community access to the arts, he said.

“That has always been on the forefront of my mind,” LeMaire said, adding the community has responded to JFFA’s efforts. As he started the job in 2021, the Concerts on the Pier drew “maybe 2,000 people,” he said.

“Last year, we had 6,000.”

The hardest parts of this job, LeMaire said, stem from the organization’s growth — with the same few people doing the work. Two paid staffers, LeMaire and Operations Manager Kari Chance, work with a few contractors to produce and promote all of JFFA’s events. Music in the Schools Month activities in March, the Concerts on the Pier series and other community partnerships have all been added to JFFA’s slate in the past five years.

“It’s a lot of work. But it’s very rewarding work,” LeMaire said.

With Field Arts & Events Hall staging concerts and other programming since it opened last July, JFFA must navigate the venue’s impact, said Oakes. She is now director of education and artist engagement at Field Hall.

Ryan Schroeder, president of the JFFA board, agreed that the organization is “in a transition phase, with Field Hall coming online. We’re really shifting our focus to the arts in the schools, and free community programming that is accessible to everybody,” possibly including another festival-type production.

Schroeder is assembling a hiring committee to include other board members as well as Karen Hanan, JFFA’s founder, and other community members.

“[We are] really just looking for that person who’s going to have passion for what we’re doing,” he said, “and figuring out where we go from here.”

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Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Port Townsend.

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