Tryon Arts and Crafts School welcomes new executive director

Published 8:00 am Thursday, June 28, 2018

Alabama native well-versed in humanities, education

Tryon — The Tryon Arts and Crafts School has recently welcomed Will Barclift as its new executive director, where he will oversee the present state of the school and cultivate new ideas and plans for its future.

Will Barclift

Barclift — who took over as head of the school in late May — has significant experience in the art world, with various degrees in subjects relating to the fine arts and education, and has been a painter and drawer for most of his life. Before moving to Tryon, he worked for six years as a director of education and community outreach at the Vascom Arts Center in Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.

The gift shop of the Tryon Arts and Crafts School displays art and handmade jewelry by local artists. (Photo by Gracie Bryant/Tryon Daily Bulletin)

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The area’s familiar foothills atmosphere, like that of where he grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, along with the how the goals of TACS matches his own philosophy on art and education  drew Barclift to the Tryon area.

“[Tryon Arts and Crafts School’s] mission is keeping with my personal mission to improve communities through creative educational opportunities to people of all ages,” Barclift said.

Barclift wishes to grow upon the already firm foundation of the school.

“I’m excited to enter into this position because the school has been in very good hands,” Barclift said. “The prior director, Cathy Fischer, was a great steward of the organization, the current staff is exemplary, and I have been reassured that our board of directors is deeply invested in our mission.”

The heritage of arts in the area is something that will be continued and respected, while also expanding into new areas, he said.

“Moving forward, my intention is to cultivate new audiences in the local community and the region,” Barclift said. “I’m open to working with anyone, any group that has a collaborative spirit.”

As it continues to grow, Barclift is thankful for the support TACS receives from locals.

“My wife and I are heartened to arrive in a community that values nonprofit organizations like [TACS],” Barclift said. “Polk County Community Foundation has been a watchdog for nonprofits in this area and [its] proactive approach to uplifting the nonprofits is on a level that I’ve never encountered in a community before.”

With this continued help, Barclift and the entire Tryon Arts and Crafts School staff plan to introduce more accessible programs to people of all ages. Barclift, other school board members and employees will work alongside the foundation to ensure that each event is affordable and that studios are filled with safe equipment to allow people to flourish creatively no matter their financial status and resources.

There are summer camps available now that will begin after July 4. Registration and information for summer camps and other upcoming events is available by contacting the school at 828-859-8323 or visiting the Tryon Arts and Crafts School at 373 Harmon Field Road, Tryon.