CLAYTON -- The Clayton Center has hired an interim director.
Scotty Henley started work Monday. His arrival comes after the departure of Heidi Stump, who served as director of The Clayton Center for six years.
Stump resigned in October to be able to pursue a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Virginia. She had been trying to work and go to school but decided to focus full time on getting her MBA, said Town Manager Steve Biggs.
“It’s a very demanding job,” Biggs said. “It’s remarkable she was able to do as much as she did at the center and balance the two.”
Biggs said he’s excited about the new hire because the role of director has shoes that are hard to fill. A director must have technical expertise and experience bringing together a community. Neither skill can be learned quickly.
“It’s not like police or fire where there’s a lot of supporting staff, so we needed someone to fill the spot quickly,” Biggs said.
Henley’s most recent position was similar to his new one, so he has the know-how. He also happens to have family in Johnston County; his parents live in Smithfield.
Before coming to Clayton, Henley worked in Washington, near Greenville, where he was executive director of the restored Turnage Theater, which has roots similar to those of The Clayton Center.
Whereas The Clayton Center represents the renaissance of two early-20th-century school buildings, the Turnage Theater is a revived vaudeville theater. Both sets of buildings had fallen into disrepair, but when restored, they became the cultural centers of their towns.
The difference: While The Clayton Center found ongoing financial support from public and private investment, the Turnage Theater did not. It stayed open for about four years before a lack of funding to pay off the mortgage forced it to close.
Henley helped bring the theater to life.
He brought comedy shows, children’s plays, musicals, classical pianists and Big Band music to the theater.
And he enjoyed bringing the community together.
In Clayton, Henley hopes to foster a stronger youth theater. As he sits in his new office near the center’s restored piano, he appears impressed by the magic of the center and its service to the community.
“I think the center is a community space that should be used by as many people as possible,” Henley said. He is already becoming acquainted with the history of the town and has taken the time to see the sites by taking a walk along Main Street.
Henley’s wife and 12-year-old son are considering moving to Clayton, depending on how long his posting lasts.
Though his position now is to be “interim” director, he plans to apply to be director of the center. “I hope [the town] decides they’d like to see more of me,” Henley said.
Biggs said the town is going to wait at least 90 days before looking at applications for a new director.