Announcing New ACA Executive Director

Adrian Center for the Arts names executive director

The Adrian Center for the Arts announced Friday that Lisa Neuman, a Lenawee County native and longtime advocate for education and the arts, has been named the organization’s executive director.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity to have Lisa be part of our team,” said Kris Schmidt, vice president of the ACA board of directors. “She has a passion for the arts in our community and she will add to the culture of the Adrian Center for the Arts.”

Neuman grew up in Blissfield and lives in Madison Township. She recently retired as director of the Adrian Schools Educational Foundation, where her responsibilities included stewarding the foundation’s arts endowment. She previously worked in development for the Sisters of Notre Dame in Toledo and Siena Heights University in Adrian.

Although Neuman had been following the ACA since it was first started, she said her interest in becoming part of the organization was sparked recently when she attended ACA’s Side by Side exhibit, which featured the work of high school students who had been paired with professional artist mentors.

“The Side by Side program was very powerful for the students who participated and really resonated with me,” she said.

Neuman emailed ACA co-founder Pi Benio and learned that Benio was hoping to step down as executive director, a position she held on a volunteer basis since the center first opened in 2015. Members of the ACA board joined the discussion as well.

Neuman will take on the responsibility of leading the organization into the future, including planning and resource development, while Benio will serve as program director, continuing to oversee the ACA’s artistic and educational activities.

“I think we complement each other very well,” Benio said.

The ACA was found by Benio and Kris Cravens. It started with a clay studio and quickly grew to encompass a variety of other media, including painting, printmaking and glass.

“It just blossomed so incredibly fast,” Benio said. “Within a year we had all of the groups that we currently have.”

Benio said serving as program director will allow her to focus on what she enjoys most - developing new ideas for programming and partnerships in the community.

“I can’t help myself,” she said with a laugh. “I have no filter when it comes to a good idea - I just have to do it.”

Neuman said she believes the ACA offers tremendous benefits for Adrian and Lenawee County.

“It provides huge opportunities for people who are interested in learning or improving an artistic skill as well as those who simply want to appreciate the arts,” she said.

She added that the ACA is also a benefit to the local economy.

“I feel that the activities of the ACA can give people who might not otherwise visit our community a reason to come and see the many great things we have happening,” she said.

The ACA is located on the former Adrian Training School campus, now owned by telescope manufacturer PlaneWave Instruments, on North Adrian Highway. It offers community activities, space for resident artists and art classes for children and adults.