Portrait of An Explorer: A Q&A with Roger Schmidt

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? An explorer. I loved reading books about explorers and then pretending and daydreaming their adventures.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An explorer. I loved reading books about explorers and then pretending and daydreaming their adventures.

 

When do you remember first being interested in the arts?

5th grade, Gene Bucholz. I was very excited to play trombone. In 6th grade I had Ginny Packer for music and that set the hook in me forever. However I grew up in a family that was very involved in the arts. My parents used to host musicians from the SSMF and held music appreciation classes in the house. My mother was also the president of the Sitka Concert Association so we had a lot of musicians coming and going at our house. We were also friends with the painter, Nancy Taylor Stonington and I remember her painting often at our house in our dining room.

 

What will be new or different in 2024 – classes, faculty, something else?

We always work to make each camp better than the year before. One of the things that makes the camp great is that every year we have new artists come and teach at the camp. Because the artists that we hire have busy professional careers there is always change as they balance their desire to teach at camp with their other professional engagements.

We are working on putting in a heating system at Whitmore Dorm. This is an enormous project that we hope to complete by Camp 2024. It might seem crazy, however many of the buildings on the campus still do not have heat.

 

What do you envision for SFAC over the next 50 years?

In my last 20 years, we have worked very hard to build a strong future for the camp. When I started in 2000 the camp was holding on by a thread. I was determined to build the strength of the program so that its future was not precarious. This has been a phenomenally challenging goal and it continues to stretch our staff and our resources to the edge. My goal and hope for the next 50 years is that SFAC can mature into an organization that can continue its valuable and high quality work yet not be required to operate at a “heroic” level. Because our society places such a low value on kids and arts, people are used to thinking that part of being an arts organization and being artists is a struggle requiring disproportionate amounts of time commitment and below market compensation. This causes burn-out and failure of institutions. Between 1990 and 2000, the Sitka Fine Arts Camp had 8 different directors and canceled two years of  summer camps. My goal is to build the strength of the organization so that we don’t see these cycles again.

 

How do you see your role in the community?

Sitka is my home. I grew up here, my family and my friends live here. I have tried professionally and as a volunteer to do what I can to maintain and create the type of community that I want to live in and that I want my children and other children to want to continue to live in.

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