The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival’s mission is to awaken everyone’s inner artist, connecting world-class professionals to aspiring artists, and giving people who are enthusiastic about the fine arts an outlet to pursue their passions.
Nearly 10,000 people come together at the Festival every July to study, perform and engage their spirit in an empowering way. Offering 200 workshops and over 100 events every season, our multidisciplinary, study-performance Festival offers opportunities for both personal growth and arts appreciation in a variety of genres including music, dance, visual arts, healing arts, culinary arts, creative writing, and theatre.
The Festival was founded in April of 1980 by Jo Ryman Scott and Edward Madden, originally as the one-week Jazz Festival ’80, and was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (proposal written by Scott, Theodore DeCorso, and Jean Mackin) and a guarantorship from the Kiwanis Club of Fairbanks. In response to requests from classical musicians interested in participating in the Festival, Scott and Madden went on to produce the two-week Jazz to Classics in August of 1981 - the first ever summer arts festival to be held in Interior Alaska. In 1982, other fine art genres began to be incorporated, including dance, theatre and visual arts, and the name was officially changed to Fairbank Summer Arts Festival. Since then, the Festival has expanded to even more disciplines based on requests from registrants.
The Festival had been a dream of Jo’s since the 1950’s, when Mary Hale founded the Anchorage Festival of Music. The original purpose of the Festival was to provide study opportunities, at minimal cost, to local people who gave their time to be in performing arts groups in the Fairbanks area. Today, the Festival is recognized nationally, attracting artists from across the globe to the Interior.
In 2009, Jo retired at the age of 80 after producing 30 seasons of the Festival and was succeeded by Terese Kaptur as the Executive Director. Terese served the organization for 8 seasons before passing the baton to James Menaker in 2017.
Over the years, hundreds of volunteers have contributed their time and energy to help produce the Festival making it, truly, a community effort. The Festival continues to evolve as the needs of the community change and will always strive to foster collaboration in the arts, providing opportunities for relationship instruction and artistic expression.
Jo Ryman Scott, Founder and Director EmeritaEdward Madden, Co-founder and EmeritusJean Mackin, EmeritusTheresa Reed, EmeritusRichard (Dick) Scott, EmeritusDave Stephenson, Emeritus
Administrative Offices600 University AvenueFairbanks, AK email@example.com