Update on Be Inspired Grants (BIG news) Dance with exercise at New Prospect Elementary

Jennifer Bogan, PE teacher

New Prospect Elementary

2020-2021 Funded Project; “Exer-Rhythm: Drums Alive!”

Jennifer used grant funding to purchase materials for the ” Drums Alive” program that integrates dance with exercise in PE class

Thanks to a generous Be Inspired Grant from the Tryon Fine Arts Center, students in Ms. Jennifer’s class have been enjoying playing and dancing while exercising.


The students at New Prospect elementary just started their drums alive unit in physical education class.  The kids are having a blast incorporating rhythm and exercise into their classes.  This is a great unit for the pandemic because it allows every student to have their own equipment and stay the appropriate six feet apart or to share equipment and wear their mask.  The benefits of these activities include the development of muscular endurance and cardiovascular conditioning, the patterns are choreographed to music, adding to the development of timing and rhythmic movements. They are also collaborating with a music teacher who is also teaching rhythm and patterns so that it can carry over to their PE classes.

Local residents serving on the TFAC Board

 “Our resourceful, seasoned leaders and our knowledgeable and experienced new members bring depth and perspective as well as an understanding of the arts and our community to the Board table,” said TFAC Executive Director Marianne Carruth.  “As we move forward out of the pandemic, I am grateful for their vision to help re-open with strength.”

Creative arts and community leadership at Tryon Fine Arts Center continue as the Board of Directors welcomes a new President, Vice President, Past President, and two new members at large to the team.  The Board of this 52-year-old nonprofit is comprised of business, educational, cultural, and philanthropic leaders representing a broad range of experience and expertise to oversee the management of the facility.

“Most importantly, I want to thank TFAC’s many donors and patrons for the strength of their ongoing support. They are truly the bedrock upon which TFAC was built and will continue to thrive.”

The President of the Board is Bob Penfold.  Bob has been a TFAC board member since 2017. He enjoyed a 40+-year career in the financial services industry with stopovers in 9 different cities along the way. His final position was in Atlanta as a Managing Director with Prudential Private Capital. Bob and his wife Susan have had a home in Tryon since 2006. During that time, they have been active volunteers with many local non-profit organizations.  Regarding his role as President, Bob says, “I thank the TFAC Board for giving me the opportunity to partner with them as we continue to lead TFAC through the many challenges presented by the pandemic.”

“I am grateful to be included on this dedicated Board as we strive to fulfill our mission for the community!  As true with our latest facility addition, TOGETHER we will make it happen!”

Sue Truitt, Vice-President, returned to the TFAC Board in 2020.  Upstate residents since 2006, Sue and her husband Dave have been involved in many area equestrian and arts activities.  Previously Sue had a career in Development with the State of Florida. In 1999, she pursued her dream career as a certified horse trainer and instructor. Sue recently retired from North Greenville University as an Adjunct Professor of Biology/Animal Science.  When asked her thoughts regarding Board membership, Sue says, “Being involved with Tryon Fine Arts Center has been one of the highlights of my life. In addition to the facility and its various exceptional offerings, Marianne Carruth and the staff, volunteers, donors, and patrons together make TFAC such an enjoyable and valuable asset to our community!”

Serving as Past President after serving 3 years as President is Tara Brannon. Of his predecessor, Bob Penfold says, “I want to acknowledge the superb job done by Tara as TFAC’s President.  In addition to normal duties, she oversaw the construction and completion of the Pavilion addition. Then the last year of her term brought the pandemic. Tara’s strong and rapid responses, many involving tough decisions, put TFAC in a position to weather the financial and organizational stresses we faced.”

New to the Board since the Covid-19 shutdown are Gwen Suesse and Melvin Cox.

“I am honored to join the TFAC board.  Tryon just would not be “Tryon” without Tryon Fine Arts Center, a facility that would be the envy of many large cities”

Gwen has been active in the arts community in Tryon since moving here in 1999, and has volunteered with various local nonprofit organizations. A former music teacher and choral director, she is also an author and life coach. Most recently, Gwen spent twelve years as President of Tryon Concert Association, shepherding that organization into the digital era. She was also a key member of the Tryon Fine Arts Center Capital Campaign Committee. Regarding TFAC and her service on the Board, Gwen says, “TFAC serves as an essential hub for our community, offering a vast array of cultural and social activities. I look forward to working with TFAC’s steadfast staff and dedicated board members.”

“I am deeply honored to work with TFAC and hope to bring a diverse, international perspective to the organization.”

Melvin and his wife, Pamela, have recently moved to Polk County where they have hosted the annual Day of the African Equestrian Gala and the Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sport.  During a multi-faceted forty-six-year career, Melvin found success as a television producer, educator, and technologist. An avid student of media and international relations, he is a Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he is a co-founder of the Focus on Africa program at UCSC’s Merrill College. He has been a member of the Alameda County Steering Committee of the World Affairs Council of Northern California and was active on the Bay Area Africa Initiative steering committee.

TFAC Artists in Education

An Interview with musicians Amy & Bob Buckingham, PACJam teachers

We checked in with our PacJam musicians during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to see how they were dealing with everything. What was their home quarantine experience like and how the pandemic impacted both their career and art?

  How has your art or ability to make art or music been impacted by the pandemic?

Amy: The pandemic has given me time to improve my musical skills on most instruments that I play.  I’ve been spending more time playing guitar and learning the lead part, so I’m teaching guitar and also playing some leads on the FaceBook songs we put up every day.  The pandemic has also, for the most part, curtailed our music jams and gigs, and this has enabled me to spend more time at art I developed in the weeks just prior to quarantining.  I took a week-long quilting class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in February and have been sewing almost every day since then.  Before the class, I hadn’t sewn for almost 10 years.  Now I’ve made 11 quilts, with many more to come!  Suffice it to say that my art has not suffered, but has grown during the pandemic.  Not having to go to work (I’m semi-retired) has become a huge blessing to my creativity.

How important has it been for you to be able to connect with other artists/musicians during this time?

Bob: The exchange of ideas is one of the great founts of knowledge. Being limited in our contact with other musicians at once provides a distancing that can get lost in the rush of events in busy times and giving new perspectives and opportunities for the integration of new thinking through introspection.  Old answers may not address new questions. Forgotten ideas may once again be entertained and implemented or weighed for value. With limited contact, there is an eagerness for idea exchanges.  It also makes you appreciate what was once taken for granted.

What has the availability of and/or participation in arts education meant to you during this time?

Amy: I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching adult and young students.  We have done some outdoor individual and group lessons, which can be difficult with masks and social distancing, but it is nice to be able to see people in person!  Winter months were not good for outdoor lessons, so we went to mostly individual online lessons in January. It has been a challenge to do online lessons, but we have mastered it, learning as we go.  It has kept me motivated to play different tunes more and to think of different ways to play them.

What are your thoughts about the importance of art and music during trying times likewe have experienced during Covid-19?

Bob: Music is at the core of who I am.  Practice and growth provide a place to be productive and find some modicum of satisfaction in a time of heavy compromise. With no gigs, we have taken to sharing daily videos online to an appreciative audience. It helps keep us in musical shape and looking for new material. It also lends a sense of purpose in the time of a nebulous future. What will the world look like on the other side?  All we can do is be prepared to do our best.

Do you feel that being able to continue your art or music has helped you cope with the pandemic?  If so, in what ways?

Amy: Being able to continue with my music and art has definitely enabled me to cope with the pandemic.  It is something To DO.  Anytime, and with little preparation.  It can be totally stream of consciousness, as happens often in the arts.  It is freeing, even though we are at home.

Update on Be Inspired Grants (BIG news) Art sparks at Saluda Elementary

Ellen Rogers, 1st grade teacher

Saluda Elementary

2020-2021 Funded Project; Holi: A Spring Festival of Color

Ellen used grant funding to purchase materials for celebrating the Indian holiday “Holi,” including shirts, powder, masks, and chalk..

Holi Hai! (Meaning, “It’s Holi”.)Thanks to a generous Be Inspired Grant from the Tryon Fine Arts Center, first grade students in Ms. Rogers’s class enjoyed the Hindu celebration of Holi with a Color Run.

See Video Here

Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, marks the beginning of spring and was on March 29th this year. While the colors used  during this celebration were store bought, students have been learning how colors can be made from dried flowers and will be experimenting with some they’ve collected from the school grounds. They will also be comparing Holi to the Jewish holiday of Passover which began on March 27th and Easter which will be on April 5th.