Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Dane County’s First Cultural Affairs Chief to Retire in April 2007

November 17, 2006
Joanne Haas, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

After three decades of bringing the arts into all corners of Dane County, Lynne Eich will retire as the county’s first Cultural Affairs director next year, County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today. “All of Dane County will miss Lynne Eich. But those who will miss her even more will be the artists, the community-based art groups, the audiences and especially our school children,” Falk said of the “immensely modest” Eich. “She has helped all of these groups during her 30 years as our county’s first Cultural Affairs director.” Eich joined county government in 1977 after completing work with the Wisconsin Bicentennial Commission. “It was a very creative time,” Eich said of the momentum that fueled the creation of the cultural affairs office in a basement storeroom of the courthouse. “We had a $5,000 budget.” Under Eich’s leadership, the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission has developed into a three-part operation dedicated to grant-making, publications -- including the popular art posters and desk calendars featuring local artists, and information and technical assistance. An 11-member board of eight citizens and three county board supervisors governs it. Eich is the sole staffer who administers the commission’s $635,000 program. “Perhaps the commission’s most gratifying achievement has been its success in extending the reach of Madison’s cultural and financial resources into the smaller communities and rural areas of Dane County,” Eich said. “While we have been a major supporter of Madison cultural institutions, our focus has always been on service to all county constituents – all 440,000 of them – with particular attention to the outlying areas.” Falk said Eich’s legacy includes her ability to leverage public dollars to attract more private dollars that has enabled the commission to do more and to reach more people. “She has been enormously successfully in getting the outside sources of money to help enhance the county,” Falk said. Dane County Board Chairman Scott McDonell said Eich has crafted the model for cultural affairs programming. “She has created an arts program – a successful system – that is a model for other counties to follow,” McDonell said. “Lynne has been a genuinely outstanding public servant and she will be deeply missed.” Marion Brown, chair of the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, said Eich is the first recipient of the Wisconsin Foundation for the Arts’ 2006 Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement by an arts administrator. Brown said this is the first time this award has been made and the bar for future recipients is high in light of Eich’s outstanding record. “Lynne epitomizes what we think of as a stellar arts administrator,” Brown said. “She strongly believes the arts are for everyone – whether you are creating art or appreciating it.” The commission issues 130 grants to non-profits, schools, municipalities and individuals, Eich said. “In my 30 years, the commission has granted more than 2,500 grants,” said Eich, who credits her strong interest in the arts and public service to her late father, James Watrous. The late Mr. Watrous was a University of Wisconsin-Madison art professor who created many of the murals on the campus and has a gallery named in his honor at the Overture Center in Madison. “I cannot imagine a job that I would have enjoyed more. I will be leaving with a heart brimming over with gratitude to the community and elected officials I have served and for the support they have given me in abundance for the last 30 years,” Eich said, adding she has worked with five county administrations. Falk echoed Eich’s comments and said: “She’s done a great job to highlight and to expand the cultural life of the county. All of her work has been done with enormous enthusiasm and impeccable integrity -- and a lot of modesty. Her service has been immensely appreciated. She will most definitely be missed.” Eich’s retirement is effective on April 13, 2007. Falk said a nationwide search will be completed to find Eich’s successor. # # #