Engaging the community through art and education

Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2022

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Tryon Art and Crafts School Director Will Barclift shares what’s in store for 2023


Since May 2018, Will Barclift has served as Executive Director at the Tryon Arts & Crafts School, helping them achieve their mission to provide creative opportunities for the community through education, instruction, and contemporary arts and crafts in a friendly, stimulating environment.  

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Over Will’s time at TACS, he’s helped build the School’s reputation locally and nationally while also increasing the number of events, shows, and types of classes, all while bringing in more notable instructors. 

“We have seven studios – Blacksmithing, Clay, Fiber Arts, Glass, Jewelry, Welding, and Wood – and the new digital photography program will launch in 2023,” Will points out. “TACS engages the community through public gallery receptions and outdoor events on our park-like grounds at Harmon Field, which recently received an award of recognition from the Polk County Appearance Commission.”

Tryon Arts and Crafts School offers over 200 classes a year. Will admits that it’s hard to choose a favorite.

“We have a loyal group of weavers who meet weekly and produce exquisitely patterned scarves, blankets, and runners,” Barclift says. “Other fiber programs include silk painting and dyeing, felting scarves, and monthly holiday-themed basketry.” 

The largest pool of instructors at TACS is in the pottery department. Every six weeks, there are various offerings that focus on hand-building, the potter’s wheel, and altering traditional shapes and forms. The metals program ranges from jewelry explorations in rings, pendants, stone setting, texture, and wire-weaving. The program even includes knifemaking with History Channel’s Forged in Fire winner Billy Salyers. 

“We also play around with different formats for programs,” Will adds. “The annual FuseFest fused glass weekend workshop series is a good example.”

Sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council and Tryon Fine Arts Center, Fusefest is a communal learning experience with 30 students and includes visiting artists, crafts demonstrations, artist panels, and a community dinner. Westside Mixers, an outdoor event series that takes place on select Friday evenings from June to October, are free to attend and feature live music, craft demonstrations, food trucks, youth crafts, and lawn games. 

TACS has a gallery that is currently being remodeled and a retail shop, both on-site. In June, the gallery will feature a photography exhibit entitled Flight of Spirit, the Photographs of Anne Noggle. The School also holds annual sales by the students and teachers of each of its studios with various special events.

Currently, the Winter 1 Session of 6-Week Classes is live on their website for enrollment, along with approximately 70 workshops that are available for registration. Additionally, Polk County Community Foundation funds free classes for locals, youth, and adults. 


“All of these events and initiatives reflect the will of TACS’ volunteers, Board, and staff to continuously improve the climate and culture of our school,” Barclift adds. “The look, feel, and function of TACS are ever-improving. These elements have to work together in our vision to be a catalyst for creative culture and vitality in our community.”

For more information, visit tryonartsandcrafts.org.