Kate Radivojevich’s career has spanned multiple industries, ranging from an eco-resort in Mexico to a custom automation company in Illinois to an organic vegetable farm — to name just a few.
There has, however, been one constant, according to the new executive director of Meadville Council on the Arts. “Throughout the course of my work experience, I found that interaction with people is so important,” Radivojevich explained during a Tuesday interview in her office on the second floor of Meadville’s historic Market House.
“It’s all about taking time to listen to what they’re saying — giving them an opportunity to speak,” she continued. “Even in my real estate experience, it’s all about people. It’s all about serving people. This organization is all about serving the community — so I believe that experience really stood me in good stead.”
Radivojevich, her husband, Andy Grzybowski, and their son, Alex, have made Meadville their home since July 2008, after Andy was named vice president of operations for Nutec Tooling Systems and the family moved north from Sarasota, Fla.
Her timing was perfect, Radivojevich recalled, because she was able to take advantage of the offerings of the Market House during prime harvest season. “I love that part of Meadville,” she said. “It’s part of the small town — part of what makes the community weave together.” She is, however, not just an outdoor shopper, especially now that she’s spending quality time on the second floor. “I love Alice,” she said, speaking of Market Master Alice Sjolander. “I love the milk. And the snacks — they’re way too convenient.”
She’s also loves Meadville in general, she added with a laugh. “It has a small town feel to it, but there is such a variety of things going on in the area,” she explained. “There are so many talented people — and such a wide variety of things to do. It’s beautifully located. And the people are very welcoming — they’re so supportive.”
Holder of a bachelor of business degree in economics from Western Illinois University and a nationally-certified yoga instructor, the new executive director has never headed an arts organization.
However, she says it feels like a natural match. It’s not just that the family came here from Sarasota, widely considered to be the cultural center of the state. Or that Alex, 17, is very involved in theater arts.
“I’ve always been passionate about the arts,” she said with a smile. “They’ve always been part of my life. I play the piano. I’ve taken dance. I see what theater has done for my son — it’s such a great confidence-builder.”
But that’s not all. “Exposure at any age promotes creative thinking in kids — and in adults,” she continued. “It can be a healing modality. Change society’s thinking. Encourage diversity. I think art is a healing language.”
She sees MCA as already having a great deal to offer. The Gardner Theatre, for example, a “non-smoking, small, intimate venue with great acoustics, is home to two ongoing programs, Jazz Jam and Blue Planet. From a visual arts perspective, MCA is now celebrating Youth Month with exhibits by elementary students from Crawford Central School District and secondary students from Conneaut Valley High School.
Looking forward, “five years from now, I’d like to see it as this great clearing house — supporting all artists and art organizations,” she explained. “One of our missions is to make art accessible in everyday life, so why not open as many doors as we can. Why not assist those people who maybe would not have an opportunity to showcase their talents for lack of an organization? I’d like to see MCA expand to offer as many services as we can to the artists in this community.”
One of the first steps in that direction, she added, is establishing a presence for the organization on Facebook. From there, the sky’s the limit. “There’s always something for everybody here at MCA,” she said, stressing that members and donors have been — and continue to be — the heartbeat of the organization.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com.