Chic Spotlight: Summerfair’s Sharon Strubbe

Chic Spotlight: Summerfair’s Sharon Strubbe

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Sharon Strubbe, Executive Director of Summerfair

Cincy Chic: Tell us about your career journey and how to go to be the Executive Director of Summerfair!
Sharon Strubbe, Executive Director of Summerfair: It’s certainly been a “non-traditional” journey!

After graduating with a BA in Art with an Education Minor from Virginia Tech, I went into fashion retail management. I loved that career but when a teaching position was offered, decided to “use my degree” and went into the classroom, teaching middle school (grades 7-9) art. Marriage and a move out West lead me to return to fashion retailing until the chain closed. My fashion background opened the door to a position with a waterbed retail chain in their corporate office. There my duties included broadcast production, media traffic and bedding buyer. I also held a position at a PBS station on the campus of the University of Georgia. That experience lead to another broadcast production and fashion retail writing position with the brand new “Home Shopping Channel” in Florida and then to a local TV station.

Upon the birth of my son, I returned to the teaching profession, first in Florida and then in Ohio (first as a graduate assistant while working on my Masters in Art Education at University of Cincinnati/DAAP and then as a K-8 Art Specialist with Cincinnati Public Schools).

After 3 years in the classroom, an opportunity presented itself with a local advertising agency in downtown Cincinnati, known at the time as THE “creative” shop in town; was hired as traffic manager/broadcast producer; after 1 year, moved into the Client Service side of the agency while maintaining the Traffic and Broadcast Producer roles. Worked on some high profile accounts, including many in the arts: Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (“Bravo Paavo” campaign); in education/government: Great Oaks, Downtown Cincinnati, Inc (“Go To Town” campaign); homebuilding and hospital (Middletown Regional Hospital).

I remained in the advertising business for the next several years; moving into non-profit for the first time as Program Director for the Association for the Advancement of Art Education and then in 2006, was offered the position as Executive Director of Summerfair Cincinnati.


Cincy Chic: What inspired you to start down the career path you’re in today?
Strubbe: I’ve always loved art, reading, writing, and knew that whatever I did, there had to be a creative outlet for me in some way. Fashion retail, art education, broadcast production (TV, radio, print commercial production), advertising and non-profit positions in the arts-all call on my creative side as well as my organizational and attention to detail skills/project management!


Cincy Chic: What’s your favorite thing about being the Executive Director of Summerfair?
Strubbe: There’s definitely more than one! First and foremost, being in the arts and having the opportunity to work with a variety of amazing artists, network and collaborate with local arts organizations. And, of course, shopping at our annual fundraiser, Summerfair!


Cincy Chic: What are some of your greatest accomplishments thus far as Executive Director at Summerfair?
Strubbe: Finding our current office space that allowed me to develop a small gallery that now houses/displays all of our “Best of Show” purchases (we purchase one piece of art each year from our “Best of Show” artist); updating our branding including a new logo and website; redesign of the Fair program; creating and implementing a new fundraiser to generate awareness and attendance to the Fair by YP women “Little Black Dress” (going into the 4th year of this event, which takes place in Moonlite Gardens/Coney Island, the first day of the annual Fair); growing several of our year-round programs (funding provided by proceeds from the annual Fair): including the Emerging Artists (college-level program) exhibit with a new partnership with the Malton Gallery as well as a SFC purchase award of $1,000 to one of the participating emerging student artists annually; growing SFC’s high school arts support through an expanded sponsorship of the CAA Overture Awards; developing an arts integration partnershiop with The Carnegie’s education department.


Cincy Chic: Do you have any new and exciting things planned for Summerfair in the future?
Strubbe: Yes! The Chair of the Fair’s Entertainment committee is working on developing a new concert event for the 2014 Fair. More info will be released later this spring. The Chair of the Food Vendors committee is looking at bringing in a local food truck (or two?) for the 3 days of the Fair. I continue to explore opportunities to develop more collaborative partnerships with other non profit arts organizations in our region and to grow our support of Emerging Artists at the professional level; both at the Fair and during the year.


Cincy Chic: What’s on the horizon for you and Summerfair?
Strubbe: For me, I hope to find the time to do more traveling to other Fine Art & Craft Fairs as well as to museums so I can bring back new ideas and knowledge to share with our dedicated year round volunteer members.

For Summerfair Cincinnati, growth in finding new volunteers willing to devote their time to advance our mission of supporting and promoting artists and the arts through new initiatives and ideas for both our annual fundraiser, the Fair, as well as for our year round initiatives.


Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more about you?
Strubbe: You can find my bio by visiting the Summerfair website or viewing my LinkedIn profile.