History and Focus:
The Art Guild of Fayetteville was organized in August of 2003 to meet an educational and cultural need for the children in rural Fayette County. The founding group of artists, musicians, and art enthusiasts believed that our children needed to have visual and performing art experiences as part of their development.
When it came to performing arts (ballet, opera, symphony, theater), travel time and expense prohibited the local schools from transporting the rural children to the distant cities for these performance experiences so it meant bringing the artists to the country. The founders knew that the performances had to be provided at no cost to the schools as these small schools simply could not budget for these essential extras.
That first year, two performances were presented at the local Fayetteville ISD and invitations were extended to the other area schools. The Art Guild (now ARTS) quickly learned that while the schools very much wanted the programs, they would need to be brought to the students within their local districts. Over the next thirteen years, the number of Fine Art Assemblies have tripled, from only two performances a year to six, and now appear in over eight locations in Fayette County and surrounding counties. Almost all our performers are on the Texas Commission of the Arts list of educational performers. This designation insures our children will receive the highest level of performance and educational value. Children in our small rural schools are experiencing performing artists of the highest caliber and in a greater quantity than the founders could have imagined at ARTS’ inception.
Shortly after ARTS formed it became clear that the area rural schools’ visual and participatory arts programs also suffered due to budget constraints. The founding members started offering Art After School classes to the Fayetteville students on the town square. Soon a local philanthropist provided a building which still serves as ARTS’ home base today. From this meager beginning grew Art After School programs offering free art classes in eight area rural school districts for ten ongoing classes including a rotating theater project.
Today ARTS’ Fine Art Assemblies and Art After School programs reach over 5000 children every year.
This summer, ARTS is offering six weeks of Summer Art Camp and has expanded camp locations from one to four area small towns. These include Weimar, Schulenburg, Fayetteville, and Round Top.
The children growing up in ARTS’ elementary age programs began aging out, so it was time to add teen classes. Teens needed more advanced and specialized instruction and experiences. ARTS is currently hosting many teen programs with the hope that this underserved population can continue in their creative development towards adulthood. These classes include five weeks of Summer Teen Workshops and the Emerging Artist Competition each summer which is underwritten and which awards over $3000 in scholarships to participants ages 12 – 18 years of age.
The constant and growing demand for all of ARTS’ youth programs demonstrates the real need for creative and artistic experiences. Our programs are not only appreciated by the children enjoying them, but by their parents and the community as a whole who understand the importance of art in human development. They know that this exposure to the visual and performing arts will broaden the vision of our rural students, stimulate their interests and imagination, and create better citizens.
While ARTS main focus is on our children’s programs, there are many attractions ARTS provides for our adult supporters and the community as a whole. The first weekend in May has become ArtWalk Weekend in Fayetteville. This juried fine art festival brings many visitors from our neighboring urban areas and fills our hotels and restaurants. ArtWalk is also a lot of fun for the whole community. ARTS also maintains the Ross Gallery on the Fayetteville square where outstanding artists from all over show. The Artist’s Opening Receptions have become a wonderful starting point for an evening out with friends. Many of the adult volunteers who made ARTS possible have become lifelong friends committed to the common goal of enriching our community. ARTS, along with many other culturally oriented organizations, are making Fayette County a wonderful place to live.