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Arts icon leaving Tallac Association

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily TribuneCarol Spain is leaving the Tahoe Tallac Association, a group she helped form 24 years ago, as the executive director to pursue painting.
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Seeking a new canvas on which to work, South Shore’s Carol Spain will leave the Tahoe Tallac Association next month.

Her last day as executive director will be Sept. 30.

“I’m taking a new direction in my life,” she said.



Spain said the commitment represents a big part of her life, but now she wants to focus her attention on painting.

“It’s been on hold the last couple of years,” she said.



She also plans to travel, including to her four daughters’ homes from one coast to the other.

Spain added she’ll miss the cultural nonprofit organization, which she helped form 24 years ago as the director while she taught college classes and painted.

“I saw a need for the arts in Tahoe from an educational standpoint. I’m extremely delighted with the legacy I’m leaving behind,” she said.

In the early years, the Tallac Association secured a venue for artists to show in a cabin at the Tallac Historic Site.

“The dual goal of the association was to make the Tallac site hospitable and educate the community to the arts,” said Spain, who worked as a volunteer for the first five years.

Spain said the initial group of a dozen volunteers were open to a wide range of art media.

Through the years, grant funding helped expand the artists, venues, volunteers and programs.

The funding also converted the boathouse on the site into a theater six years ago. Spain said she remembered knocking on lawmakers’ doors to secure the funding.

“What I discovered from that is that government is very accessible,” she said.

Programs amounting to a roster of 600 performers have essentially evolved, including art, plays and musical shows that rotate artists and run through the summer. And the Valhalla Players, a spin-off of the Tallac Association, are now on tour.

Musical events include the Valhalla Sunday Reggae, Valhalla Blues and Brews and the Celtic Festival.

A decade ago the association launched one of the more shining examples of Tallac-born programs — the Renaissance Festival. The “Ren Fair,” as South Shore residents refer to it, has doubled the number of volunteers for the Tallac Association to 300.

Overall, Spain characterized the longtime experience as “one of the most exciting periods in my life.”

Spain’s replacement will likely have a background in the arts, public relations and facilities management as well as a familiarity with the legal requirements of nonprofit groups, event planning and grant writing.

“We seriously think these skills helped Carol,” Tallac board member Deb Darby said. “It’s important to us we have someone who knows the community.”

The replacement is also apt to come on board with a knowledge of retail, budgets and the development of work plans. It requires a certain level of performance. It’s a salaried position, but the board reviews the director’s role at the end of the contract. It could be six months or a year, Darby said. She added that the board does not know what the salary will be for the new director.

The new director will negotiate venues with the U.S. Forest Service, but association President Vicki Hanes said she’s confident the programs — in particular in arts and exhibits — will remain intact.

The board is reviewing applications, which include several Lake Tahoe residents.

“I think there are a lot of talented people who live in the Tahoe area,” Hanes said.

The board expects to complete the interviews by the end of next month, but the process will not be rushed, she said.

When Hanes — who was suffering from a broken ankle at the time — discovered Spain was leaving her job, she said she felt “like I broke my other leg.

“How do you replace an icon? Carol will be missed. The association wishes her the best,” Hanes said.

The group is hosting a party for Spain at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Valhalla Estate. Those who are interested in attending are asked to call (530) 544-8299 by Sept. 10.


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