With its newest executive director at the helm, The Arts Council’s sights are set on increasing and diversifying the opportunities through which North Georgians connect with performing arts.
Now three months into her tenure, Pamela Williams-Lime has the community’s interests and artistic wellbeing at the forefront of her decision-making.
“It’s so exciting to hear the community (is) so excited about The Arts Council, where it’s come over the past three to four decades and that the community has embraced it so much but wants it to be able to provide so much more,” Williams-Lime said.
According to Williams-Lime, community members’ resounding request is to see more performance events from The Arts Council, particularly those that reflect a unique and diverse repertoire, which she feels “is an easy ask.”
“We’re looking at the kinds of performances we can bring in that feature a wide range of ethnic diversity as well as age diversity,” Williams-Lime said. “You’ll see as we start booking things (that) we’re not going to disregard the kinds of performances we’ve had in the past, we’re just going to build on those.”
Williams-Lime comes to The Arts Council by way of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she served as executive director of the Pabst Mansion, historic homeplace of the storied Pabst beer family showcasing iconic art and architecture. While there, she joined forces with the City of Milwaukee and a historic preservation committee to support capital improvements and the mansion’s financial well-being via fundraising.
Williams-Lime succeeds The Arts Council’s former director Gladys Wyant, who concluded her 38-year reign as Gainesville’s “First Lady of the Arts” Feb. 4.
While Wyant left big shoes to fill, Williams-Lime is finding they fit like a glove.
“I’m not easily intimidated,” Williams-Lime said. “I did my homework before accepting this position to see where the organization had come from (and) did a little investigation on the community itself and how it’s changed over that period of time. (Wyant’s) legacy speaks for itself. The legacy I personally would like to leave is: I left the community with something unique. You leave an organization better than you found it, hopefully meet the needs of the community and do some fun and interesting things that maybe haven’t been done before.”
As a nonprofit and business visionary, Williams-Lime has a steady track record of curating unique experiences and educational programming inextricably tied to the arts that community members otherwise may not have access to.
“Your community culture is so much richer if you bring those opportunities to the people that live in the community,” she said. “It’s not only a quality of life you’re building — it helps economic development. We don’t want everybody to think that they always have to go to Atlanta (to experience the arts). We want to provide opportunities within our own community, and we want to provide opportunities to all of northeast Georgia.”
From Williams-Lime’s perspective, The Arts Council is at a pivotal point as an organization. While working with The Arts Council’s board of directors to define the next-generation vision for the organization, she’s also looking toward partnerships with fellow arts and culture organizations to jointly promote programming and spearhead potential job shares.
“Collaboration is something our donors want to hear about, because they know that when you collaborate with other organizations, you are able to do more with every dollar that you have,” Williams-Lime said. “I think there’s huge opportunity for the organization as we move forward. We will be continuing to look to supplement the organization through internships, volunteer support and continuing to cultivate everybody having an opportunity to somehow get engaged with The Arts Council, whether you’re a board member, committee member, a volunteer, a staff member, a donor — we’ll offer you plenty of opportunities to engage with us.”
Williams-Lime also expressed an interest in partnering with local schools to “add value to what they’re doing” by way of fostering childhood relationships with the arts — an investment that’s particularly near-and-dear to her.
As one of six children whose parents “really believed in exposing you to as much as they could,” the arts have been a developed passion of Williams-Lime’s from an early age.
“I do believe giving kids an opportunity (to experience the arts) and asking, ‘Can we as an organization provide those opportunities?’ is really important, because then you carry that throughout your adult life,” she said. “Giving kids that exposure also helps them learn to creatively problem-solve. That’s something that you carry with you all through your life. It helps you communicate under different circumstances with anybody. You can find a commonality when you start talking about music and art, even if you have just entered into a conversation.”
As for her future as The Arts Council’s executive director, Williams-Lime remains open to growth and change, standing eager to see the organization evolve in tandem with Gainesville at large.
“I try to listen as much as I can, to learn as much as I can and then come up with creative problem-solving ways that don’t just benefit our organization, but have benefits to the community,” she said.