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Abundant thanks to those who support the local arts

Dayna Del Val, executive director of The Arts Partnership

The Arts Partnership was honored to receive the Governor's Art Award in March and to be added to the illustrious list of artists and arts organizations to have received this award over the past 40 years.

When we learned we were a recipient, I started thinking about the mentors, colleagues, board members and staff who have been instrumental in our, and my personal, growth over the last seven years that I have directed this organization.

With school wrapping up, a busy academic season winding down and summer fast approaching, it's a great time to reflect on and express gratitude for others, so here goes:

Linda Boyd, you introduced me to The Arts Partnership and wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation. Thank you for opening a door I never would have walked through on my own.

Eric Runestad, you were my first board chair, you led the hiring committee and you were my first mentor. When I say "we" instead of "I," it's because of you, and when I bring humor to a situation, it's because I watched you do it so successfully.

Carol Schlossman, Brad Bachmeier, Andrew Mara, Michael J. Olsen, Ellen Shafer and Karin Rudd, as TAP's board chairs, you have been leaders, friends and incredibly important guides in my professional and personal development. I learned to see numbers as a story, to bring artistry to even serious conversations, to approach the nonprofit sector academically, to strategize like a businessperson, to declare and take action and to tell our story.

Sue Spingler, Kris Kerzman, Carrie Feigum, MeLissa Kossick, Tania Blanich and Chelsey Engelhard, you have been my employees, my colleagues and on so many, many occasions, my north stars. You have picked me up when I have been down, held us all to a higher standard and made the work of advocating for the arts a whole lot less lonely and a whole lot more fun.

There are the countless others who have talked through crazy ideas, unpacked quandaries, celebrated successes and let me rant about a variety of frustrations. This list is by no means exhaustive, but Charley Johnson, Dave Anderson, Billi Jo Zielinski, Lauris Molbert, Mickey Quinn, Spider Johnk, Jodi Duncan, Brad Schlossman, Adrienne Olson and so many, many others, I hope you know that I could never have done this job without your guidance and support.

I could go on and on because my gratitude bucket is massive. TAP board members, funders, Primary Artist Partners, colleagues outside of the arts and my family: thank you, sincerely.

It shouldn't take a statewide award to remind me of the people who walked this path with me, but as with many things, life gets in the way and gratitude can get pushed to the back burner. I hope this column helps you think about your own list of important people and inspires you to reach out to them, too.

A little more gratitude expressed all around would be a very good thing. So my final thank you is to you—thanks for reading and supporting the arts.

Dayna Del Val, executive director of The Arts Partnership, writes a monthly column for Variety. For more information on the arts, go to theartspartnership.net.

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