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Arlynn "Arni" Fishbaugh

DYLAN BROWN/Helena Independent Record

Arlynn "Arni" Fishbaugh, executive director of the Montana Arts Council, was elected president of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.


HELENA -- Arlynn "Arni" Fishbaugh, Montana Arts Council executive director, was recently elected president of the board of directors of the national service organization for all U.S. state arts agencies.

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies "helps state arts agency directors be better at their job," said Fishbaugh, and provides such services as data and research to them. "It's also an advocate for funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

"I look at my appointment as recognition for the whole state of Montana," she said. "It's everybody and how we work together that's resulted in this position.

"I'm particularly pleased that a rural state has this position," she added, "although I represent a national viewpoint." She sees her election as recognition of Montana's leadership in the arts. "Excellence in leadership is not only found on the coasts.

"I think Montana is really recognized nationally for the public value work we've done, reinforcing the value of public funding of arts. The public value work we do is used nationally. We've received more and more recognition for our innovation and the way we work with artists in rural areas."

Her service on the board could benefit Montana arts, she said.

"I ... think this national recognition could bring other resources into Montana we wouldn't necessarily have. Representing NASAA allows Montana to have unique visibility with other funders that could be of benefit to NASAA and a state like Montana."

Fishbaugh is also the 2010 recipient of NASAA's Gary Young Award for Outstanding Services to the State Arts Agency field.

She grew up on a wheat farm in Carter, near Fort Benton, and earned an undergraduate degree in theater at the University of Montana and a master's in theater management at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her career has focused on arts marketing. She has worked for the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, the Houston Grand Opera touring division of the Texas Opera Theater and was associate director of marketing for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Returning to Montana in 1990, she has served as MAC executive director since November 1992.