Springfield Area Arts Council
Sheila Walk poses with a quartet from the Land of Lincoln Barbershop Chorus

Former Director Sheila Walk Featured in IAC Newsletter

An Appreciation of Sheila Walk, Executive Director

A color photo of Sheila walk smiling at the camera. She is dressed in a bright blue top and a colorful cardigan.

Earlier last year, The Springfield Area Arts Council’s Executive Director, Sheila Walk announced her retirement. IAC’s Director of Communications, George Tarasuk, sat down with Sheila this past month to discuss her many accomplishments. Her last official day was January 31.

Before arriving to the Springfield Area Arts Council (SAAC), Sheila taught high school speech, theater, literature and composition for 30 years. After the closing of her school, she was brought in as a judge for Poetry Out Loud with the Springfield Area Arts Council. She was hired soon after as a program assistant and managed the program from 2011 through 2017. In 2018 Sheila served as interim Executive Director and was later hired for the job. 

When asked about what achievements she is most proud, Sheila includes her involvement with the growth in Poetry Out Loud and increasing diversity. During the pandemic, Sheila helped local artists find sources of income and provided streaming opportunities through “Creators of Art, Music and Poetry.” She communicated with SAAC members weekly by sending a compilation of arts resources to enjoy at home, calling it “Art in the Time of Covid”.   

As Executive Director, she rebuilt the SAAC’s treasury and brought in a curator to arrange the organization’s art collection. For what she is most grateful, Sheila says, “This is a city that values the work of non-profits and respects those who rise to the Executive position. I’ve been invited to serve on committees for the placement of public art and have been involved in so many public discussions about what makes Springfield a wonderful place. Making the arts a topic of those conversations has been a pleasure for me. The city itself is coming to realize what we offer to the community, and they’re recognizing that with increased contributions.” 

“Sheila has been an excellent partner to all of us here at the IAC.” says IAC Director of Strategic Partnerships, Teresa Davis. “Sheila has been an enthusiastic ambassador for Poetry Out Loud in Illinois and a leading and committed member of the Local Arts Network, most recently helping to present a successful Local Arts Network Pre-conference and One State Conference in Springfield.”

Sheila says she will serve on the board of the Hoogland Center for the Arts, will stay engaged with SAAC’s education programming and hopes to pick up some other volunteer work in the community. When asked what she plans to do for fun, Sheila responds, “I’d like some more time for reading, travel, long walks and spending time with family. I used to embroider and quilt with my mother, so I’d like to pick that up again as well. Mostly, I want to keep working and stay engaged. I come from a farm, so I’m used to working.”

The IAC congratulates Sheila on her retirement and looks forward to working with SAAC’s new Executive Director, Bella Szabo.

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