California Arts Council

State of California

Press Release Detail

February 01, 2011Mary Beth Barber

Director Muriel Johnson announces retirement from the California Arts Council

The state arts agency's director retires; applications for the open search for a new Director due March 1

Sacramento -

Muriel Johnson, the Director of the California Arts Council since January of 2005, recently announced her retirement and the nationwide search for a new Director to be hired by the Council. Johnson's effective retirement day is February 1, 2011, and Deputy Director Marilyn Nielsen has been selected by the Council as the Interim Director prior to the placement of a permanent leader for California's arts agency.

"It has been my great honor to serve California and the whole panorama of artistic endeavors. While the financial times have not been the best, the creative people of this state have been," said Johnson in a summary letter to the state arts field and supporters about her tenure and the achievements for the agency over the past six years. "My thanks to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for giving me the opportunity to serve, to the enthusiastic, dedicated arts council members, hard-working staff, wonderfully imaginative, talented arts field ... and everyone who is engaged in making, supporting and enjoying art. It really does make life worth living!" (The full letter may be read at

Johnson was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger in January 2005 as Director of the California Arts Council. Prior to her appointment, Johnson had an extensive history of government and community service, especially service to the arts and culture of the greater Sacramento area. She served multiple terms as Sacramento County Supervisor; was President of the California State Association of Counties; served as Chair of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments; and was Chair of the Public Library Authority in Sacramento.

Johnson is also a strong advocate for local investment in the arts and championed Sacramento County's Art in Public Places, especially the public-art program by which 2% of eligible City and County capital improvement project budgets be set aside for the commission, purchase, and installation of artworks throughout the City. She helped raise $10 million for local charities and held key community positions as President of the Crocker Art Museum and President of the Sacramento Junior League. In 2004 she was the Chamber of Commerce's "Sacramentan of the Year."

Information about the California Arts Council's search for a new Director may be found on the agency's website as well. This position is an exempt state position appointed by the Council, and applications are due by March 1, 2011. The full job description is available at .

Members of the media may contact: Mary Beth Barber, Communications Director, California Arts Council, 916-322-6588 (office), 916-835-5580 (cell), or  For more information on the California Arts Council and the arts programs and organizations supported by the agency, please go to

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the Arts and Creativity. Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Vice Chair William Turner, Wylie Aitken, Michael Alexander, Andrew Green, Adam Hubbard, Charmaine Jefferson, Terry Lenihan, Karen Skelton, and Susan Steinhauser.

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