FAFO administrative coordinator announces departure

Maggie Weakley will leave her position at the end of the year to focus on her art and family.

File photo: Maggie Weakley shows off some of her artwork she had on display at her booth during the Ocala Style Magazine Women’s Expo at the Klein Conference Center at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Fla. on Saturday, June 25, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

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Posted November 11, 2022 | By Susan Smiley-Height
Photo by Bruce Ackerman

On the heels of the highest attendance ever for the annual Ocala Arts Festival comes news that Maggie Weakley, administrative coordinator for Fine Arts For Ocala (FAFO), will leave that post at the end of this year.

The 55th annual Ocala Arts Festival, which took place Oct. 22 and 23, drew more than 150 artists and over 25,000 attendees. FAFO also puts on the annual Symphony Under the Stars event each Mother’s Day at the Ocala Golf Club, in partnership with the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. The event is a tradition for thousands of families and ends with the bang of fireworks.

Weakley, herself a noted artist, as is her husband Kent Weakley, has been FAFO’s administrative coordinator for eight years. The couple has a new grandchild and they want to spend more time with family, traveling and working on their own art.

In her case, she has been working on her “Into The Ocean” water collection of one-of-a-kind jewelry, original art and functional art, and notes that her mission “is to change the way we think about ocean pollution and how it will affect future generations.”

“It was a decision that was really hard to make,” Maggie Weakley said of leaving FAFO. “I’ve been contemplating it for a couple of years but then wanted to wait because of the pandemic. Then last year I wanted to be sure we could recover.”

She said that as things were going well with both the art festival and the symphony event, “things were going amazing with my artwork.”

“I couldn’t keep up the pace,” she explained. “And then the baby was born!”

“When you know, you know. And I wanted to leave on a high note,” she added. “I told the board about three weeks ago, just before the festival. And I’m leaving lots of notes and spreadsheets and I’ll still be around. It should be very easy for whoever takes over. It’s a well-oiled machine and the board of directors is great.”

Beth Cannon, president of the FAFO board, said Weakley’s announcement was “bittersweet.”

“But we are so proud of Maggie because she has been doing so well with her art and feels comfortable in taking that to the next level. We are proud and pleased she is able to do that,” Cannon said.

“We will really miss her. She was the heart and soul and kept everything running very smoothly,” Cannon added. “We are looking to hire someone and while it’s a part-time position, it can be more full-time when it’s time for the festival and the symphony. We’ll offer adequate training, and this is a fantastic board, a very hard-working board that will be here for support.”

“It’s a little scary,” Weakley said. “One hundred percent of my art is freelance, and my husband is a freelance artist. We have to create our own income, so we have to work harder. But I’m up for the challenge. I have a lot of fun doing my water collection and my big focus is to get everything online. Then Kent and I want to travel. We want take a year to just enjoy.”

To learn more about FAFO, visit fafo.org