Peter Simmons, the longtime executive director of the Bowdoin International Music Festival, will resign his post at the end of the year to take a sabbatical that has eluded him for 28 years.

He’s directed the Brunswick-based festival for 16 years and before that worked for a dozen years at the Maine Art Commission. Because of the demands of the job, he’s been unable to take time off to pursue other things.

“My plan is to not take another full-time job right away,” he said. “I want to take some time, do some writing, maybe do some part-time consulting. I am going to stay active in the arts and nonprofit world.”

Simmons, 59, has been thinking about leaving the festival for three or four years. He delayed his departure after festival co-founder and artistic director Lewis Kaplan announced his departure following the 2014 season. Brothers David and Phillip Ying, members of the Ying Quartet, replaced Kaplan and completed their first full season as co-artistic directors this past summer.

The festival offers concerts and classes for high-achieving classical music students from around the globe at the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick. It operates six weeks each summer.

Simmons said he decided to stay longer than he intended to allow for a smooth transition following Kaplan’s departure. “I couldn’t in good conscience leave before this moment,” he said. “But I can in equally good conscience leave now, because David and Phillip are amazing. And the board, through the process of the founder transition, has really coalesced. The board is more knowledgeable and stronger than ever. This place will carry on without a hiccup.”

Festival board Chairman Rol Fessenden announced Simmons’ decision in a note to supporters Friday.

“He will leave the festival stronger than we have ever been,” Fessenden wrote. “Our finances are in great shape, we have a capable and experienced management team in place, (and) the feedback from students and faculty at the conclusion of this summer’s season has been overwhelmingly positive.”

The board will begin a search for Simmons’ replacement immediately, he said.

The festival operates with an annual budget of $1.8 million, about $500,000 of which comes from fundraising. That’s not an easy thing to do when the festival has a six-week window of exposure each year, Simmons said.

He offered a word of caution to his colleagues. Simmons has spent 28 years working in the arts in Maine and worries that the demands of arts administration jobs are getting harder to meet.

“I feel very good about the quality of the art that is produced in Maine, but I will always be worried about the financial health of most presenters and producers, because Maine doesn’t have the breadth of funding available that more urban and industrial areas have,” he said. “And I also worry about the individuals who run those organizations. Everyone who works in an arts organization is so mission-driven, compensation is often second fiddle. There is so much work involved. Getting time off in a small shop is hard.”

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes

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