The Columbus Area Arts Council’s new executive director wants to boost arts education, an area that has been among her specialties.

Currently, local arts education is where organizations such as the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic still shine, devoting about 20 percent of its annual budget to educational programs.

Kathryn Armstrong, who began work June 6 alongside her predecessor, Karen Shrode, has been getting acclimated to leading the nonprofit agency — one that presents high-profile local events such as Saturday’s Johnson-Witkemper Insurance Biggest Block Party Ever, expected to attract several thousand people.

For now, her responsibility involves becoming the Biggest Catalyst Ever for arts and related groups. She has met with a range of organizations in recent weeks to hear how the arts council can help agencies have the most impact.

“The most important thing for me still is to listen and to observe,” Armstrong, 37, said her from office on the Fourth Street side of The Commons.

Armstrong said she wants to hear from organizations about their real needs and strategic plans in order to help them become more successful and to get their vision before the public.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.