Megan Kleven is the new director of the Chatfield Center for the Arts. She's proud to stand on the stage of Potter Auditorium and claim to be a part of the number of people who schedule events at the historic venue.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Megan Kleven is the new director of the Chatfield Center for the Arts. She's proud to stand on the stage of Potter Auditorium and claim to be a part of the number of people who schedule events at the historic venue. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Megan Kleven is now Chatfield Center for the Arts' (CCA) new director and has set her expectations high for the upcoming offerings for the arts center. She is also looking forward to working with the center's diligent volunteers.

"A lot of other volunteers help out with this, and everyone has been very kind in teaching me what to do and who to call, how to keep organized...they've been a lot of help," she said.

This is a combination of positions, Kleven explained. "Everyone who volunteers here works full-time jobs and they do a lot outside of their everyday jobs, like marketing and bookkeeping," stated the 2006 Chatfield High School graduate and St. Olaf College alum, who spent the past few years teaching English in Japan.

Kleven recalled standing before the Chatfield School Board, hoping to persuade the members to take theater arts into account when discussing a building project.

"I was so excited. I remember speaking to the board of education when I was still in high school about the need for theater if they built a new school, and I felt very strongly about it. At that time, there was theater, but the stage doubled as a gym, so sports almost always got first pick."

Then she moved to Japan, where she experienced life abroad and expanded her prospects, still keeping an eye on Chatfield's art scene.

"I was an assistant language teacher in a small town kind of like Chatfield, teaching English. I found out that the program I was in was a very good program...I learned a lot, but as a teacher, it left things to be desired," Kleven explained. "I thought, 'I can do more purposeful things,' so I took all the good things I learned there and am putting them to use here. I've always wanted to be a part of the process when they started doing things, but I was living in Japan - while I was missing out on it, I still wanted to be a part of the arts action."

She was thrilled to receive news that the former Chosen Valley Elementary School would, indeed, become the CCA. "It's amazing because when I heard that this would be an arts center, I thought 'Excellent, there'll be theater,' but it has so many rooms that can be utilized for workshops and concerts. It's exciting that there'll be a functioning theater."

Kleven elaborated, "I knew as soon as I heard about the center becoming the CCA, I wanted to participate as a volunteer, and my contract was ending in Japan, so I e-mailed people and asked them about it. I'd been a stage manager at my college's concert venue - scheduling events - and I enjoyed that a lot, so I thought this would be perfect."

She is pleased to sit behind the desk in the CCA's box office and make arrangements for upcoming events and to encourage civic organizations and families to use the center as a meeting place for activities and celebrations.

"I'm excited because I'm going to learn a lot - my degree is in Asian studies and linguistics - so this is an opportunity to learn about the business side of things, participate in and promote the arts," Kleven said. "Hopefully, that will give us more arts in Chatfield. I'm excited to see the arts thrive in Chatfield. I felt kind of like the arts were struggling here. Not so much anymore, because there have been a bunch of events and more on the calendar."

She outlined the CCA's calendar, noting that two performers in particular, pianist Lorie Line and country singer Wade Hayes, will be taking the Potter Auditorium stage in October, and that there's some talk of bringing even bigger artists, with the potential to have a big artist in a small setting for an intimate concert.

"There are a lot of ideas, and there is the hope to do that. We want to try and find unique events that we can host," Kleven said.

While she admits that she still has plenty to learn, Kleven said she is ready to take on anything others can teach her.

"I hope to work with other volunteers, help the center grow into an organized and reputable center - right now there's a lot of trial and error. I'm hoping to perfect things and get a solid feel for it so everyone can enjoy it," she said. "I'm amazed at how much the volunteers have accomplished since they all have full-time jobs. I'm hoping through this position to help those volunteers a bit, but at the same time, we're always looking for more volunteers. It's a very fun place, with great people to work with."

She concluded, "I really love this position because it gives me some great opportunities to learn a lot of things, work in the arts with a lot of great people. I really look forward to working with the community and spreading the word about the CCA. I'm always open to suggestions."

Kleven's office hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon in the CCA box office at 405 S. Main St., Chatfield. For more information, call (507) 867-3810.