"I'm thrilled; we have such great momentum now, and I'm glad the board of directors felt the same way," she said earlier this week. "We're a good team."
A strong summer season helped propel both Skoug and the board of directors towards making her position a longer term assignment. The arts center saw an uptick in its membership, which now totals more than 1,200. More than 300 of the members are artists, and the arts center boosted that count by 32 since the start of the year, Skoug said.
Additionally, more than 6,500 visitors passed through the center or attended one or more of its events on its campus along Manchester West Road. The arts center operates galleries in Yester House, as well as the Elizabeth De C. Wilson Museum, offers a performing arts venue at the Arkell Pavilion, along with a series of education programs for school-age children and adolescents as well as adults.
Skoug will oversee a staff of seven at the arts center as well as an annual operating budget of approximately $800,000, said board chairman John LaVecchia.
Skoug has worked closely with the 16-member board and forged a good relationship with them, he said, adding that financial reporting has been streamlined and plans are moving ahead for next year's shows.
"We liked what we saw," he said. "We liked the atmosphere that was created. The board became more invigorated."
Broadening the reach of the arts center, boosting its visibility and making it an attractive campus for a wide cross-section of visitors from near and far are some of the hopes for the coming years, he said.
"It's not a bad place to come up and just walk around," he said, noting how some of the walking and hiking trails have been improved and upgraded. "If people see what we have going on I think they'll like it, but we need to get more visible. There's room to do better."
Among the changes Skoug has focused on over the past months has been on the energy efficiency front. a new boiler has been installed in the Yester house, cutting energy costs, and the hope is that more energy conservation measures are underway for both the Arkell Pavilion and the Wilson Museum, he said.
"We're able to be open and save a barrel of money over what it was seven or eight years ago," he said.
That could help extend the length of time the pavilion could be used as a venue for shows which could be staged there, he said.
Another priority involves expanding the range of programs offered at the arts center. Bringing more opportunities for area youngsters to explore art either at art camps or through visits to the exhibits is another area she hopes to build upon, she said.
Another project in the works is completing a cataloguing of the arts center's archived paintings and works of art, with an eye to unlocking some of the value of the holdings as well as exposing them to the public, she said.
Engaging the community and the public are also high on her list of priorities, and have been since she began earlier this year, she said. "We need to look outside of the box and say 'how can we look at this in a different way and have fun with it,'" she said. "We're certainly open to comments and people's ideas; we're looking to do more collaborations. We want to reach out to people of all ages."