Mansfield Academy of the Arts founder retiring after 30 years

Marianne Cooper is a teacher at heart.

She’s also a visionary who is not afraid to take risks.

Cooper, 80, recently announced she will be retiring from Richland Academy of the Arts after founding the downtown facility 30 years ago.

She took a chance all those years ago, giving up a tenured position at Ohio State University-Mansfield to pursue her goal of making arts available to everyone.

“There was so much talent here and the potential of children,” Cooper said. “I began to research what could potentially be in Mansfield.”

She initially made a proposal for the branch campus.

“That didn’t come around, so I put it in the drawer,” Cooper said.

Undeterred, she took early retirement to continue her quest.

“It was so hectic,” Cooper said. “I was doing both jobs for at least a quarter.”

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