Jenni Rebecca Stephenson, the longtime executive director of Fresh Arts, quit her post suddenly last Tuesday.
“After seven years, I’m taking a moment to breathe,” Stephenson tells Houston Press by phone. She wouldn’t elaborate on the reason for her departure, though she did say that she doesn’t have another gig lined up.
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“The organization is in good hands and Fresh Arts is poised to finish the year strong,” adds Stephenson, who was quick to praise her now former coworkers.
Prior to running Fresh Arts, Stephenson had been in charge of Spacetaker, which offered educational support to lean arts groups and individual artists, since 2009. Three years later, Spacetaker merged with the Fresh Arts Coalition and the new incarnation, Fresh Arts, focused on supporting artists through classes, exhibition space and performance opportunities. The nonprofit organization, located inside Winter Street Studios, won the Press’s “Best Arts Organization” award in 2012.
The outspoken Stephenson was one of the chief voices for Houston’s little-guy-and-gal arts organizations during the planning of the city’s Arts and Cultural Plan, which was approved by Houston City Council on October 14. On the day of Stephenson’s resignation, she spoke at length about the funding disparities between Houston’s large and small arts organizations on KUHF’s Houston Matters.
Three days after Stephenson's decision, Sarah Sudhoff quit as the executive director of the Houston Center for Photography after just ten months on the job. According to the Houston Chronicle, she, too, offered no explanation for her hasty departure.