Kimball Art Center leader, pivotal in tumultuous era, plans to step down | ParkRecord.com

Kimball Art Center leader, pivotal in tumultuous era, plans to step down

Robin Marrouche will continue to play role at organization as a board member

Robin Marrouche, the executive director of the Kimball Art Center, plans to leave the post in February after nine years helming the organization. She will join the board of directors as the not-for-profits leadership considers long-range plans, including pressing ahead with a new permanent facility.

Robin Marrouche, the figure who guided the Kimball Art Center through a tumultuous era that witnessed sustained growth but also the extraordinary decision to leave its longtime Main Street location, will resign her position as executive director in February while joining the not-for-profit organization's board of directors.

Marrouche has been the executive director of the Kimball Art Center since the fall of 2008. The Kimball Art Center has long been one of Park City's leading arts organizations, and the executive director is seen as having significant influence in the city's broad cultural landscape.

The Kimball Art Center has grown at a significant rate under Marrouche. In a release announcing her departure as the executive director, the Kimball Art Center indicated attendance at the facility has increased more than threefold. The Park City Kimball Arts Festival, the annual summertime marketplace along Main Street that is the organization's primary fundraiser, has also enjoyed strong increases. The release said more than 50,000 people attend each year, increasing the economic impact of the festival to $28 million annually. The economic impact has doubled, according to the Kimball Art Center.

Marrouche, 48 years old, said she is proud of the partnerships that have been nurtured between the Kimball Art Center and the wider community during her tenure. She said, as examples, restaurants and hotels offer deals during the arts festival. Marrouche said the Kimball Art Center has also expanded its outreach involving schools, describing the student programs as especially important to her legacy.

"It's been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career," Marrouche said. "It's been a dream job."

She said the Kimball Art Center is financially healthy, attendance has climbed and "partnerships have really paid off."

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But Marrouche also held a pivotal role in the discussions that led the Kimball Art Center to sell its property at the high-profile intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue. The Marrouche-led Kimball Art Center, saying it desired more space for programs and exhibits, engaged City Hall in what became one of the most contentious development debates in Old Town in years.

The Kimball Art Center tapped a famed European architect to design an expansion onto the patio at the intersection. Bjarke Ingels Group initially crafted a stacked-timber design that soared above the historic Kimball Art Center building itself. The design was widely panned in Park City, leading to a second Bjarke Ingels Group design. The second one resembled a wedge shape. City Hall rejected the second design, arguing it did not fit the municipal government's strict design guidelines. The Kimball Art Center afterward sold the property to a developer and moved into temporary quarters along Kearns Boulevard. The leadership of the Kimball Art Center continues to weigh options to develop a permanent facility.

The release indicates Marrouche's position on the board of directors will include an assignment on a committee that is considering long-range plans. One of the key roles of the committee will be raising money for a permanent facility.

Marrouche said the Kimball Art Center could make a decision about a permanent location in the spring. She said the organization is conducting detailed research into up to four locations in Park City or surrounding Summit County. She did not identify them.

"It's really become a personal passion to see this happen for the community. My heart is really in it," she said.

The Kimball Art Center intends to conduct a national recruitment for an executive director. Kathy Kennedy, who is the managing director, will oversee the organization's operations, as she does currently.