BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Office of Cultural Development and the Louisiana State Arts Council announced Susannah Johannsen as the new Executive Director of the Division of the Arts. Previously serving as the Director of Economic Development and Certified Local Government Coordinator for Louisiana Main Street, Johannsen begins her new role with the Division of the Arts today, April 5, 2021.
“Susannah will not only serve as our Executive Director for the Louisiana Division of the Arts, she will additionally deploy her skill sets in economic development, strategic planning and community development towards expanding the connectivity of each and every citizen across our state,” said Mary Lee, Chairperson of the Louisiana State Arts Council. “Her recent work with our state’s vacant and blighted properties affirms her ability to turn a weakness into a sustainable strength. She is a team builder, a plan implementer, a problem solver and a difference maker. Susannah is passionate about Louisiana and its future.”
The Louisiana State Arts Council conducted a four-month, national search to select a new Executive Director. Johannsen has more than 20 years of experience managing projects and teams, experience in strategic planning, federal grant management, and community development. In her most recent role with Louisiana Main Street, she worked with 49 Certified Local Government communities and 35 Main Street communities across Louisiana to strengthen business development, combat blight, and urge revitalization in our communities. During the last three quarters of 2020, which took place during the pandemic, Main Street communities in Louisiana reported the opening of 112 new businesses adding 330 new jobs.
“I am thrilled about becoming the newest Executive Director for the Division of the Arts. The Division has a wonderful staff that is passionate about the arts and culture in Louisiana, and I am very much looking forward to getting to know them better and learning about their projects, plans and ideas,” said Susannah Johannsen, Executive Director of the Louisiana Division of the Arts. “I am also eager to get to know the members of the State Arts Council and the Regional Arts Councils. Louisiana has extraordinary talent, and I am excited to learn more about how each region is seizing the opportunities to celebrate and showcase our talented artists.”
Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Johannsen studied Art History at Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She also holds master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture and Business Administration from LSU. Johannsen serves on several area boards including the Friends of the LSU Museum of Art, LSU Museum of Art Advisory Board, Baton Rouge Gallery, and the Big River Economic & Agricultural Development Alliance.
"My love for the arts has been a constant in my life and has never wavered and for that, I am very blessed. My hope is to ensure everyone has access to the arts in their community. Creative Placemaking has become a catch phrase, but it is a concept that can help smaller, more rural communities find their identities again. It can help us remember the past and celebrate the future by ensuring there is a future. Some Louisiana communities are stretched to the brink, but through the arts and creative community development, we can combine all of the diversity and culture of the community to bring about revitalization and stabilization,” said Johannsen. “The work of the Division of the Arts is diverse like our communities, and I can’t wait to dig in and learn about all the opportunities and partnerships we can forge to keep Louisiana beautiful, culturally rich and exceptionally dynamic.”