Elizabeth Sayre, a 47-year-old native of Wilmington, Del., began her position as arts education coordinator July 5.
Her duties include managing and developing the arts education programs in dance, drama, music, ceramics, visuals arts, special workshops and the summertime Professional Development Series.
The Grand hosted more than 143 courses and served nearly 2,200 students from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012.
“I am interested in trying to help the programs here grow in terms of student numbers and in terms of the ranks of available instructors,” Sayre said. “I would personally love to see the programs here reflect the cultural communities here in Tracy.”
Sayre most recently worked as a program specialist in world music for the Philadelphia Music Project, Pew Center for the Arts & Heritage, where she helped acquire grants for the musical organization in Philadelphia.
Sayre, who now lives in San Leandro, has long been involved in music, having played the piano and sung in choral groups since she was 5 years old.
In the early 1990s, she ventured further into percussion, and she has led women’s drumming circles.
She also completed postgraduate studies in ethnomusicology and has 15 years of professional experience in that field. Her long-term goals include deepening intercultural understanding through the Grand’s classrooms.
“I think a public art institution like this one is a great place where different communities can come and learn about each other in a safe place,” Sayre said. “I think it would be really interesting if we connect the different cultural communities and have offerings in all the artistic disciplines that somehow relate to cultural heritage or relate to Tracy’s history.”
As arts education coordinator, she will also help with collaborations with the Grand’s private and nonprofit contributors and will be a staff liaison to the Grand Foundation.
“I’m excited about being a public servant — I think the arts are a really crucial service,” Sayre said. “I’m excited to be in a place where the arts are so valued that there is a public government institution dedicated to them.”
In response to the loss of arts curriculum in many schools, Sayre said she would work with instructors to complement the offerings of local districts and home-schooling communities.
The Professional Development Series, a collection of summer workshops that began in 2011, may also grow under her guidance.
“I would love to see some of the programs give people a basic training so that they could go on in a more serious way if they want to, or it could just be a hobby — it could go either way,” she said. “I think it would be wonderful to bring regional talent through here, special events and teachers for professional development.”
Sayre said she would be getting to know the city and region but was initially impressed with the Grand and its place in the community.
“I think it’s gorgeous. It’s amazing. It’s a beautiful space,” she said. “I think arts are really a good medicine for people, and carry forward cultural traditions, and are so important and are often undervalued. I look forward to contributing to the future development here.”