best arts organization

Terri Trotter, CEO of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, left, and Kristin Poole, the Center's artistic director, stand in an arts exhibit at the organization's Ketchum headquarters.
Photo by Roland Lane

transforming and
enlightening a community

Sun Valley Center for the Arts voted Best Arts Organization.
Lisa Carton

The Ketchum-based Sun Valley Center for the Arts is one of the West's premier nonprofit arts organizations, packing an enormous cultural punch for its small size. Founded in 1971, the Center began with just a few people presenting classes and events, growing to an organization that now serves more than 40,000 attendees every year (in a valley with a population of 22,000).

The Center is now nationally recognized for its unique multidisciplinary programming. Visual and performing arts, education and humanities directors all work collaboratively with the Center's artistic director to develop three or four multidisciplinary projects a year that explore timely themes and topics from multiple perspectives.

"We have a really smart and curious staff who are engaged and in-touch in the world, all who support our goals here at the Center," said Artistic Director Kristin Poole, who clearly is passionate about the way art can enlighten people. "Our mission is to enrich our community through transformative arts and educational experiences."

Through its unique multidisciplinary approach to arts education, the Center presents some of the world's most interesting artists, musicians, authors, filmmakers, authors and playwrights. Often theater, music, the visual arts and humanities come together to explore an idea or theme that is relevant to our time.  

"The Center for the Arts gives us an extraordinary opportunity to serve and continue our high level of cultural offerings, and we applaud our supportive and generous community."
Terri Trotter, Sun Valley Center for the Arts CEO

"We have a lecture series that is embraced widely by the community for the curious learner, a winter and summer concert series, and we also offer classes that are hands-on in the visual arts, as well as theater classes," Poole said.

With equal emphasis on the visual and performing arts and the humanities, the Center has made a commitment to exploring issues from each of these three disciplines.

"Part of what we look at when we consider programming is how do we make Sun Valley a great place to be," said Center CEO Terri Trotter. "Not just for the incredible outdoor experiences, but also for the art and cultural opportunities. That's an extremely important driver for us."

Trotter, hired nearly a year ago for her extensive arts and theater background, was the former director of the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Trotter notes the annual Sun Valley Wine Auction, the Center's major fundraiser each year, contributes to the high quality programming the Center is able to produce and offer each year.

"Because of the community's participation and generosity in this wonderful event, we are able to operate on a very high level nationally, and continue to attract artistic talent to the valley."

In fact, in 2006, the Center received accreditation from the American Association of Museums in recognition of its adherence to the highest standards of operation and programming. Only 5 percent of America's arts and cultural institutions share this distinction.

In addition, Trotter is overseeing the artistic merging with Company of Fools, a long-standing and well-respected professional theater company. Company of Fools has moved under the umbrella of the Center, becoming the theater arts arm of the organization.

"The addition of Company of Fools broadens the opportunities for our community," Trotter said. "The Center for the Arts gives us an extraordinary opportunity to serve and continue our high level of cultural offerings, and we applaud our supportive and generous community."

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