The Shenandoah Arts Council was officially founded on September 11, 1978, by a group of arts patrons and visual artists. At the time, the organization covered the geographic region of Winchester, and Frederick, Clarke, Warren and Shenandoah Counties.
Early activities included bus trips to cultural events, such as art exhibitions in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia and performances in New York.
The organization was located in the Kurtz building in downtown Winchester for many years, and while there started “Art in the Stairwell” for small exhibitions.
In the 1990s, the Arts Council started “First Fridays,” a celebration of the arts on the first Friday of each month (except January and May) in Old Town Winchester. For many years, the Arts Council also housed the Marion Park Lewis Foundation, dedicated to arts education in our region.
Dr. Jeffrey Harris and Dr. Vicken Kalbian donated a two-story building at 811 – 813 S. Loudoun Street in Winchester to the Shenandoah Arts Council in late 2000. At the time, there were limited funds to convert the building from doctor’s office to arts space. With an extremely dedicated board of directors, artists and community members, a renovated gallery and performing space opened in the Fall of 2003.
In 2018, the Shenandoah Arts Council announced an affinity partnership with the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley to promote the work of regional artists. As part of this collaboration, ShenArts relocated to the historic Hexagon House on Amherst Street and sold the Loudoun Street building. Plans are currently in development to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Shenandoah Arts Council and its contributions to the local arts community, 1978 – 2018.
The Shenandoah Arts Council (ShenArts) supports the arts through programming, instruction, and exhibition, and expands arts awareness to the community of the Northern Shenandoah Valley.