Sitka Fine Arts Camp was founded in 1973 as an initiative of Sheldon Jackson College faculty. The Camp was created to provide exposure and training in a wide variety of the arts to Alaska youth. Participants came from Sitka and from rural villages throughout Alaska where school art programs were less available.
Building from its original mission, Sitka Fine Arts Camp has become a nationally acclaimed program that has served generations of aspiring artists of all skill levels. In 2012, over 700 students attended camp. They came from 37 Alaskan communities, 22 states, and several other countries. In addition to class work, students attend live evening performances and presentations by the talented Camp faculty. For many of our rural students, this is their first exposure to professional artists.
In recent years, Sitka Fine Arts Camp has developed beyond its flagship program to offer year-round opportunities in the arts for all ages. In 2001, Sitka Fine Arts Camp began organizing public concerts. This evolved into the current Performing Art Series, which draws world-renown performers, as well as to host public workshops and master classes. Since 2006, with the support of the Sitka School District and the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Sitka Fine Arts Camp has worked to bring artists to local elementary and middle schools through Artists in Schools (AIS) residencies. In 2008, Sitka Fine Arts Camp’s director travelled to the White House to receive the presidential Coming Up Taller Award, honoring youth organizations that make extraordinary contributions to arts and culture in their communities.
In 2011, the Sheldon Jackson College Board of Trustees gave the historic campus to Sitka Fine Arts Camp. At the time of the transfer, the campus had been closed for four years, and was in desperate need of repair. Sitka Fine Arts Camp has since overseen the revitalization of this historic landmark. Hundreds of volunteers have contributed over 25,000 volunteer hours and generous donors have provided support to bring the Sheldon Jackson Campus back to life.
Having a home to call our own has also allowed the Sitka Fine Arts Camp to grow in previously unimagined ways. In 2012, Sitka Fine Arts Camp launched five new summer camp programs, including art forms as diverse as musical theater and native jazz, serving everyone from elementary strings players to adults of all experience levels. Students can continue their art education throughout the year by taking After School Arts classes. In 2011, our organization received an ArtPlace Award as “one of the most dynamic examples of Creative Placemaking in the Country,” and it is our challenge to continually invent new ways to be a positive force in our community by drawing on the resources of our organization’s own history, the legacy of the Sheldon Jackson Campus, and the strength of the Sitka community itself.
Sitka Fine Arts Camp is operated as a project of Alaska Arts Southeast, Inc., which received its federal non-profit 501(c)3 status in 1975.