New ArtsinStark director focused on raising more funds for arts in Stark County
Later this year, Stark County will have a new but familiar face running its arts advocacy group. Maureen “Mo” Ater has been selected as the next CEO of ArtsinStark.
The lifelong Stark County resident is currently VP of marketing and development at Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio. She previously held marketing roles at the Canton Repository and Massillon Independent newspapers.
Although she does not consider herself an artist, she does remember taking art classes at the Massillon Museum as a child. Her parents often brought her to Canton Ceramic Artists Guild meetings.
“I definitely have a passion for the arts,” she said.
The nonprofit ArtsinStark provides funding for county arts groups, but it has had fewer dollars to grant since the pandemic. Ater plans to utilize her connections with Stark County leaders as the agency kicks off its annual fundraising campaign in March.
“We really need to be hyper focused on how we're going to find new and unique ways to maintain and grow our donor base and maybe bring others into the fold,” she said. “We’re definitely still reeling from the times of COVID, but I think we're on an upward swing. There's so much happening already that ArtsinStark does so well.”
Ater will start as CFO on Feb. 27, while Emil Alecusan continues as interim CEO. He’ll step down June 1, when Ater officially transitions to CEO. Until then, he plans to show her the ropes of their fundraising campaign while also looking to her marketing background to tell the story of arts in Stark County.
“She brings the dynamic to it, the creativity,” he said.
Campaign revenue is down about 28% from pre-pandemic levels. This year, Alecusan hopes to make some of that back with a fundraising goal of $1.4 million - a 17% increase over last year.
After the campaign ends in June, Ater said her agency will shift to finding ways to impact Stark County residents.
“For me, personally, I believe that accessibility to the arts is really important,” she said. “My family had an interest in the arts, but they weren't wealthy by any means. To be able to have a symphony that's just a few miles down the road that students, children, adults can all attend is really significant.”
She also cited “hidden gems” for which she hopes to provide more awareness and access, such as Sing Stark, the Bluecoats drum corps and art classes at the Canton Museum of Art.