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Scottsdale Artists’ School outreach effort shares power of creativity for all to experience

Written by Terrance Thornton for Scottsdale Independent

The practice and ability to expound artistic expression is something everyone possesses — but oftentimes victims of circumstance don’t get that opportunity early enough to make a difference.
For officials at the Scottsdale Artists’ School in Old Town Scottsdale the mindset that artistic expression is the cornerstone of a community, perhaps even society at large, is alive and well. However, not everyone is born into situations where art is appreciated and the theory of creativity cultivated as we pass from childhood through adolescence into a walking, talking, free-thinking adult.

“For the past 35 years, Scottsdale Artists’ School has been dedicated to the artistic enrichment of the community and to developing the capabilities of artists and aspiring artists of all ages by teaching applied fundamentals of fine art,” said Trudy Hays, executive director at the Scottsdale Artists’ School, 3720 N. Marshall Way.

“In 1983 SAS was founded by a small group of Arizona artists and community leaders who recognized a lack of available education opportunities for artists in the fundamental concepts of traditional fine art. They gathered with the goal to create a place of inspiration and creativity, where artists of all skill levels could come and learn from the best working artists in the country. Since then the school has grown into one of the country’s leading independent art schools.” But that school has grown from educational entity to outreach vehicle, according to Sandra Zally, director of education and outreach. “The extraordinary scope of Scottsdale Artists’ School’s mission reaches its community in a diverse array of fine arts programming,” she said. “The SAS Youth Academy is a natural extension of its desire to provide fundamental art training to those with an interest and passion for art.” For Ms. Zally, the school is more than an educational entity, but rather a resource for a community that prides itself as a southwest artist enclave.
“Scottsdale Artists’ School aspires to be a valuable artistic resource for their community,” she pointed out. “They are inspired and motivated by the goal to share their passion for creative experience with their neighbors, businesses, charitable groups, and schools.

”And, as political posturing continues to chip away at the American public education foundation, Ms. Zally says the Scottsdale Artists’ School is looking to fill that void. As recent budget cuts to Scottsdale Schools have drastically reduced students’ access to the arts, The SAS Youth Academy is trying to fill the gap by providing low cost classes and free enrichment activities for the local community,” she said pointing out a certain community group is helping to fuel that mission. “Additionally, funds from The Charro Foundation will be used for scholarships for our youth and teen programs. Scholarships are awarded on need and/or merit as we want to inspire and instill a love for the arts in everyone who desires to study it.”

Turns out, the Scottsdale Charros believe in artistic expression and are offering the outreach effort at the Scottsdale Artists’ School — the SAS Youth and Outreach Program — a $5,000 grant to expose more to value of artistic expression. “As a past president and long-time board member of the Scottsdale Artists’ School I agreed to sponsor a grant request for the youth and outreach program to help the school expand its local presence in the local community,” said Scottsdale Charro Marc Miller. “With reduced funding in schools, it is important to reach youth by other means.”

For 58 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage. “The Scottsdale Artists’ School is vital to the local economy,” Mr. Miller explains. “With a large percentage of students from out of town, the tourist element is very important to Scottsdale or other communities. The arts help provide a well-rounded education to children and provides an additional avenue to build self-confidence!”

A cornerstone of the community

For art and community advocate, Skye Fallon, who serves as director of communications at the Scottsdale Artists’ School, artistic expression should be considered vital to any modern society.
“The arts serve as a cornerstone in our communities, fostering dialog, creative problem-solving and self-expression,” she said. “The contribution of artists to society can be so undervalued, minimalized and even invisible at times, yet almost every career depends on some form of art.” Ms. Fallon says art is all around us if we were to take the time to look. “The buildings around us would not be standing without an artist — an engineer — to design and build them,” she said. “The medical field would not be inventing new devices that save peoples lives without someone who thinks artistically and creatively, outside-the-box to design them. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are so driven into the school systems, but all of these need art to be whole. SAS is a huge STEAM proponent. A community that leaves art out of the equation will not be whole.”

Ms. Fallon believes the Artists’ School programming is a change in pace for those seeking a well-rounded education. “SAS’s youth academy and adult programs encourage students to observe, define, shape, problem-solve and lead the world around them with artistic expression,” she said. “In doing this, their impassioned voices will give hope, vision and direction to the future.” But, Ms. Fallon, also points out it is education first, creation second. “The school focuses on developing an artist through education, exhibition and a stimulating, supportive environment,” she said. “The school’s curriculum and programs are grounded in fundamental art theory and practice, but also seek out and explores new genres and methods. The curriculum is dedicated to developing observation skills, technical ability and creating finished artwork to encourage self-confidence, knowledge and enthusiasm. The Youth Academy promotes individual interpretation in the creation of art instead of simply imitating art done by others; students learn a variety of techniques that enable them to discover new ways to express themselves.”

Thank you for all the help & info for Mitch Baird's workshop. He was the perfect artist for me to work with, extraordinary in giving of himself, knowledge, demos & servant attitude. The week was excellent!

- Laurie H. -

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