Nonprofit of The Month: Theo Art School

6 mins read

Founded in 1992 by three local Bismarck art teachers, Theo Art School is a non-profit art school offering educational enrichment to the youth and the adult population in our community through a strong fine arts program. Theo Art School offers year-round programming and brings art programs across the state of North Dakota.

I had the opportunity to discuss the nonprofit’s origins with Executive Director Liliana Norby. She delved into the meaning behind Theo’s origins, and what separates it from other art programs and nonprofit organizations.

This year marks Theo Art School’s 30th anniversary of being involved in the Bismarck-Mandan community. While the past three years have upended the lives of many, the “little art school that could,” as Norby put it, didn’t give up and found success in the long run. While they were unable to remain open during the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Theo Art School did transition to a virtual setting, adapting as the obstacles came their way.

Now back in person, entering its 30th year, Theo Art School continues to provide art education for all ages and skill levels in the Bis-Man area, as well as a large portion of the state of North Dakota. Looking ahead, Theo aims to provide a welcoming environment and well-rounded art experience through its art programs available to the public.

“We’re going to continue creating constructive relationships within our community. Not only with families and friends, but also with local businesses, schools and other local nonprofit organizations by promoting our mission with low-cost tuition, free full scholarships and all art supplies included. Theo Art School is committed to making a positive impact and to continue providing art to generations to come,” Norby said.

Did You Know?
Theo Art School is the ONLY nonprofit art school in North Dakota!

What is Theo Art School’s goal?

Theo Art School strives to encourage students to pursue their dreams of creating art by keeping our classes low in cost and providing scholarships to those who would otherwise be financially unable to participate in our programs. Our studios are a great place for everyone to further their artistic abilities, create, learn and discover. Whether you’re interested in art classes for kids and adults, summer art camps, workshops or just looking for a new hobby, Theo has it all. In Theo Art School’s “Art for All-Share the Love of Art” program, students of all ages, as well as cultural, economic and ethnic backgrounds, develop artistic imagination, self-expression and understanding of differences and similarities among cultures.

Theo Art School provides art education for all ages and skill levels in the Bis-Man area and surrounding communities. No other fine arts organization offers free classes and full scholarships. Theo Art School is committed to making a positive impact and providing art for generations to come. We also strive to ensure access to the arts for all ages, encourage the community to be creative, as well as support, partner and collaborate with other committed art organizations.

Did You Know?
The school is named after Theo Van Gogh, the brother of Vincent Van Gogh, who encouraged Vincent to pursue his dream of art and supported him financially to make it possible.

How can people donate to Theo Art School?

When supporting Theo Art School financially, donations will be placed towards both scholarships and art supplies for those in need. For those that want to donate in other ways than financially, Theo Art School gratefully accepts art supplies of any kind that they can use.

Additionally, donating your time to the organization through volunteering or registering for a class allows anyone in the community to support Theo Art School including through family events and coming to classes. Furthermore, leaving positive reviews and spreading word of mouth can greatly help our organization!

What’s next for Theo Art School?

We aim to continue offering art at little to no cost to the artist. We are working toward the future of Theo and another 30 years of sharing the love of art by bringing in new ideas, art opportunities and funding. Art opportunities include adding more guest artists, art mediums and more to our event calendar. Our role in our community continues to be more important than ever before because of the shifting of the arts in the public schools, demographics and economic growth in our state.

Some of Theo Art School’s Many 2022-2023 Programs

After-School Art Club: The Art Club has provided a creative outlet for school-age students at our studios for the last eight years. Members meet every Monday and one Saturday a month. Their curriculum includes participating in different art projects in our community and submitting their artworks to local art exhibits and art contests.

Homeschool Art Hour: A unique art program designed to incorporate art as part of any homeschool curriculum. The affordable fee per student and the flexibility of our studios allow them to work around their other activities.

Mommy and Me Art Hour: Our tiniest artists and moms explore a variety of art materials, experience new textures, improve fine motor skills, and enjoy being creative in a group setting. We do get messy, but we give toddlers plenty of room to work and grow!

Preschool Art Hour: Our budding young artists three to five years old get to explore art and express themselves through art without worrying about getting messy. This is a wonderful introduction to a more structured setting, where social skills through art become part of the learning process.

Weekly Youth/Adult Private Art Classes: Not sure of your artistic talent? New to art? No problem. Our art classes are for individuals of all ages. The classes are designed to fit the needs of each student and include both foundational courses and more advanced subjects. Students of all ages and skill levels are welcome.

Theo Art School Field Trips: We host field trips for groups of all ages that are designed with art in mind. All art supplies are included and the cost per student is very affordable. With ample room at the studios, large groups can include everyone in their field trip. Schools come from as far away as Dickinson before the end of the school year! Furthermore, The Buggy Art Cart travels offsite to rural communities that are not able to drive to Bismarck.

Art Camps: Our art camps were developed to offer parents and children a refreshing, inexpensive alternative by creating days filled with engaging and enriching sessions in the arts. When school is out, Theo is in!

13th Annual Art Attack Summer Camp 2023: With modified attendance guidelines due to COVID-19, we’re able to offer fourteen weeks of art, field trips, guest speakers and much more! In the company of 25 campers per week, get ready for another rewarding summer of art! Theo Art School is still unable to meet all financial obligations, due to the lack of incoming funds to support the program 100%.

Family Events: Families are very important at Theo Art School. We host family events for all ages, both at our studios and offsite. From family nights at public schools to events hosted by community organizations, we enjoy being part of the community. Our events are free or at a very low cost.

In recent years, we’ve kept the tradition of Family Art Night at Public Schools, just virtually! While a little different, it was the same fun and creativity in place. Supplies were prepared and delivered or picked up. Families gathered at home at the scheduled time to “zoom into art.” Over 4,000 art kits were created all in our studios! Even if we were connected virtually, the enthusiasm and seeing familiar faces were priceless. Theo is going back to in-person Family Art Nights at public schools during the spring and fall semesters.

Art for Seniors: We offer art classes to assisted living facilities, senior centers and nursing homes in the Bis-Man area, as well as out-of-town locations, such as Wishek, ND. Art for seniors has become a very important part of our vision statement. We offer programs such as ‘Intergenerational Art’ and ‘Art Night for Active Seniors.’

Classes for Special Groups: Our partnership with Social Services Agencies provides art opportunities for disadvantaged and young adults with disabilities. Theo Art School goes off-site or the classes take place at studios.

Out in the Community: From free art sessions to face painting and fundraisers, we’ve had the opportunity to bring art through events hosted by foundations, private groups and other nonprofit organizations. This “little art school that could” has been busy with our community partnerships, happy to be back at in-person events.

Theo Art School believes that art is for all regardless of age, disability or financial status. They integrate art into all diverse groups and provide free opportunities to organizations that offer services to disadvantaged and at-risk individuals. Furthermore, they help students foster social responsibility and other skills through art. With more than 95,000 registrations in its 29-year history, Theo Art School maintains an active programming schedule throughout the year. Bound for success in the coming years, the school is proof that a community can bond through art, no matter their age or skill level.

Support! Theo Art School
Phone: (701) 222-6452
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: @TheoArtSchool
Hours: Monday – Friday (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Address: 1810 Schafer St Bismarck, ND 58501