Pacific Northwest Art School recipient of heritage donations

The Pacific Northwest Art School recently received large donations from two Whidbey women who died in the past year.

Over the course of their lives, art school co-founder Muriel Pickard and student and patron Ellen Marott gave the institution more than just money.

Pickard had been with the art school from its very beginnings.

In 1983, Pickard and five other members of the Whidbey community decided to start a non-profit art school so that Coupeville residents could participate in the arts all year round, not just during the annual arts festival in Coupeville.

They received $ 25,000 in start-up capital from the Coupeville Festival Association and the school opened in 1986.

The Pacific Northwest Art School began by teaching fiber art, or art made from textile materials such as fabric, felt, and yarn. After about five years, art school administrators added photography, mixed media, and painting to the school curriculum.

The current executive director of the art school, Lisa Bernhardt, described Pickard, who passed away earlier this year, as a “very classy, ​​very poised and elegant lady who simply cared about all aspects of her community” and had “the biggest and kindest heart”.

Pickard’s daughter, Jan Pickard, said her mother was not an artist herself, but rather good at connecting with others.

“She was a sociable person,” Jan said. “She really made everyone feel very special.”

The other donor, Marott, died last fall. She attended art school workshops for 20 years, but she was more than just a student. Bernhardt said she remembered Marott walking into his office during breaks in the workshops to ask how art school was doing.

“She was keenly aware that the money was tight and the operating cash flow was tight,” Bernhardt said. “I had no idea she was planning on leaving anything at school.”

Bernhardt called Marott a “caring woman with a passion for the arts” who “loved school deeply”.

Gifts from Marott and Pickard were a boon to the school during the pandemic. Like many institutions, the Pacific Northwest Art School has been hit hard by COVID-19. Staff hours have been reduced from full time to shift time. Expenses such as the mortgage and utilities did not stop, but without the usual income, the school had to draw heavily on its reserve funds.

Now Bernhardt has said those two legacy gifts give the school “a bit of a break” as employees begin to return to work.

The money from these donations will help the school recruit well-known instructors to lead workshops, plan for the future of the school, and potentially invest in some wishlist items they did not have the funds for. .

“So if you’ve ever wondered if one person can make an impact, the resounding answer is yes! Said a press release on legacy gifts.

Kayleen C. Rice

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