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Jim Barber to resign as head of Branson Regional Arts Council

BY K.D. MICHAELS, Staff Writer


Jim Barber, popular host of The Barber Shop on 98.1 Branson4U, and Executive Director of the Branson Regional Arts Council has announced his resignation from the latter position.


In a Facebook Live announcement on Tuesday, Barber explained that he was leaving the position to pursue other endeavors.


"About eight years ago, my friend Jean Cantwell came to me and some other friends and said 'What are we going to do to save community theater in Branson, Missouri?' Over that next year, we met several times, and little did I know that this would lead to me being named the Executive Director of the Branson Regional Arts Council. It was a new opportunity for me to do something for our community that combined everything I've ever done—from theater to marketing, public speaking, public relations. And I brought that all together and in the last seven years we've done some really incredible things."


Barber continued, "The thing I'm most proud of is that we've acquired the Historic Owens Theater and it is now the official Performing Arts Center for Branson, Missouri, where we have high-quality community theater productions year round."


Barber also mentioned his pride in the Special Abilities program, started a few years back, to allow those with special needs to have the opportunity to perform on stage.


"When I first took this job, I promised the Board that I would stay until my daughter graduated from high school," said Barber.  "Well, last December my daughter graduated from college and is getting married this weekend. Life goes through a lot of seasons, and I am coming into a new season. I felt led to take the job seven years ago, and now God is telling me, in many big ways, it's time to do some other things."


Barber noted that he has committed to stay with the Branson Region Arts Council for the next six months, as they search for a new executive director, to take over by October 1, 2024.


Barber shared his plan to continue to support the Arts Council through a membership and season pass to attend productions.


"It was a difficult decision, but it was an obvious decision," said Barber. "I'm going to be going back to what I started as—a performer, an entertainer. I hope to continue to do my radio show for many years because it gives me an opportunity to promote the community and arts and entertainment here in Branson. But, I hope to be back on stage. I think you'll be seeing me soon here on a Branson stage. I want to do more traveling on weekends, performing my comedy and my ventriloquism that I did for my entire career."


Barber thanked the Branson Arts Council Board, his staff, actors, volunteers, technicians and all who have supported and helped him during his time at the Branson Regional Arts Council.


"It's a big change," Barber noted. "But I think it's going to be a good change and a healthy change, not only for me, but for the organization as well. I need to spend some time with my family. Family is so important. If you miss out on that time, you miss out on what's really important in your life."


Barber encouraged his audience, "Please continue to support the Branson Regional Arts Council. I will, and I hope that you will, too."


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