Callanwolde Arts Center’s new executive director, Peggy Still Johnson, carries a long list of occupations: entrepreneur, accomplished pianist and vocal performer, composer, arranger and educator.
Johnson is on the advisory board of the Georgia State University School of Music, the board of governors (Composer Seat) of the Atlanta Chapter of The Recording Academy (Grammy Organization) and the board of directors of the Atlanta Film Festival, among others.
“Callanwolde Fine Arts Center is the destination that all my life’s experiences have brought me to,” Johnson said.
Johnson said her experience of running a business, her love of architecture and her work as a music instructor and composer have all prepared her to be the arts center’s executive director.
“I want to make it clear that Callanwolde is already a fantastic place, I am here to make it better,” Johnson said.
In 1988, Johnson founded the Peggy Still School of Music, which has since grown to include more than 600 students and 45 instructors at three locations in Atlanta, Alpharetta and Woodstock. In 2011, Johnson sold the school.
Johnson has also performed all over the world and most recently worked with Stephen King, John Mellencamp, and T Bone Burnett on their musical production Ghost Brothers of Darkland County as the vocal coach and copyist.
As executive director, Johnson said she wants to develop more outreach programs at Callanwolde to host wellness programs with seniors and those with special needs, and make more programming available to veterans and low income families.
Johnson also said she wants Callanwolde to use its outdoor amphitheater more frequently.
“I’d like bring in some acoustic groups or chamber music,” Johnson said. “Maybe some Shakespeare plays—things that don’t require a loud sound but that would be nice for the public.”
In addition to adding more music program and growing Callanwolde’s arts program, Johnson said she wanted to improve the grounds at the large Gothic-Tudor style mansion, which was completed in 1920 and was home to the Charles Howard Candler family.
Howard Candler, the oldest son of founder of the Coca-Cola Co. Asa Candler, was the president of Coca-Cola from 1916 to 1923.
Johnson said she wanted to work with DeKalb County to promote Callanwolde and undertake several capital campaigns to raise funds to improve the grounds and some of the unused buildings at the mansion. Additionally, Johnson wants to begin offering tours.
“I want Callawolde to be a household name and when people visit Atlanta. I want it to be a place they want to come and see,” Johnson said.