As the City of Millbrook’s first Cultural Arts & Special Events Director, Danae Morgan isn’t following a job description, she’s writing it and tweaking it when needed as she creates special events for the city (like parades, concerts, festivals, farmer’s markets and more), and implements public arts and cultural programming.
Danae Morgan started her efforts in April 2022, and for a little over a year, she’s been hard at work identifying and engaging Millbrook’s creative community. “This has never been done in a comprehensive way,” she said. “But it’s my goal. We must know who our creatives are in order to display their talents, help enhance their crafts and connect with them for programming and events.”
“I hope to expose and educate our community about the arts to develop a greater appreciation and support for our creative community.”
What first got you interested in city government and in arts and events?
I landed in this career field purely by accident. I was working in a local city government finance department, and it didn’t take long to feel that my creativity was being stifled by the mountains of paperwork. My name was mistakenly not taken off that city’s departmental job register, and I was called for an interview in its cultural arts facility. It was a perfect fit for me, and the rest is history. I’ve been in this field for 24 years and cannot imagine doing anything else.
What has been the impact of your work so far?
Our goal of elevating existing events and creating a variety of new ones around what our patrons want has proven very successful. Data show that our event attendance had record numbers this past year and included our own citizens and those from surrounding communities. And we are very proud to be working in collaboration with the Millbrook Area Chamber of Commerce to implement a mural program.
What’s the benefit of a packed event schedule for a city?
The benefits of a well-rounded, full events schedule are multi-faceted. Events enrich the lives of our citizens, and it has been proven that arts, culture and humanities are vital to a thriving community. Premier, quality events can also help with branding a city and increase tourism dollars while bringing innovation and diversity. There is a quantitative economic impact directly tied to event programming that positively affects businesses. Cultural events are a win/win for everyone.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’m a people person, and I really enjoy being out in our community and interacting with our citizens. I’ve learned so much this past year from just listening to their thoughts, concerns and opinions.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
On the work side, it would have to be the creation of our new community arts facility, The Art Mill. This multi-purpose building hosts gallery space to showcase local artists and their work, a visual arts classroom, a music classroom and meeting space for arts organizations and civic groups. I’m also proud of the increased participation in our City events.
What’s been your biggest work-related disappointment?
I wouldn’t say disappointment, but rather my biggest challenge would be the responsibility I feel to help the general public understand the concept of art and artists. Over the years, I’ve seen people not like what they don’t understand or feel intimidated or uncomfortable by art. I hope to expose and educate our community about the arts to develop a greater appreciation and support for our creative community.
What does leadership look like to you?
To me, a leader has excellent communication skills and can clearly define their vision, expectations and goals while exciting their employees or others about the project or task at hand. They should be approachable, respectful, encouraging, adept at creative problem solving, open to considering new perspectives and passionate about their field.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever gotten?
Trust your gut. I think this is great advice for all aspects of life.
Dream dinner guest:
I would give anything for just one more dinner with my late husband, Chris. I miss him terribly, and I know that our dinner would be filled with lively conversation, an abundance of humor, silliness and his infectious laugh.
What are your hobbies?
The obvious is all things arts whether it be gallery openings, live theater or immersing myself in new cultural experiences. I’m a huge fan of all genres of music, especially live music, so I try to catch as many concerts as possible. I also enjoy interior design, yoga, hiking and traveling. I’m drawn to anything old, dusty, crusty and vintage, so thrifting and what I call “Junkin’” is always fun.