EDMOND — The Fine Arts Institute has a new executive director, and Shannon Price said it's a goal she set for herself a few years ago.
Price has been affiliated with the institute since 1994. She began as a teacher and worked her way up to serving on the board.
In January, Mitzi Hancuff announced she would retire as executive director and Price would be taking over her position May 20. Price worked closely with Hancuff over the past 10 years.
“As much as I didn't want her to go, I knew I would be OK to step in and fill those shoes and pick up where she left off, and it was a very easy, smooth transition for our board and our teachers,” Price said. “I think Mitzi probably saw that in me, and I have her to thank for this position because she helped me grow at the speed that I needed to grow.”
During a 2005 board meeting, Price was asked where she saw herself in 10 years. She responded while looking at Hancuff and said, “I want her job.”
“I think that's one of those things where I said it and I might have been kind of kidding at the time, but it put that idea not only in my head but in her head, and it was sort of one of those, ‘You would really be good at this, let's start training you,'” Price said.
Price never planned on being an artist but always had a strong passion for art.
She graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1991 with a degree in graphic design, and she always managed to take creative art classes along with her required ones.
In 1994, she began teaching at Western Oaks Elementary in the Putnam City school district, where she stayed for nine years, and during that time she discovered the institute.
“I would come here and teach after school and in the summer, and I fell in love with the place,” she said. “Once you're here you want to be a part of it.”
Price said she thinks everybody needs a creative outlet.
“I knew where I was supposed to be,” she said. “Whenever I found this place, I think what sets it apart and what makes it different and made me want to stay here is the ability to be creative in a lot of different ways.”
The institute offers a wide array of classes, from oil painting to pottery to photography to improv.
“It's really an environment that's open to constantly changing,” Price said. “It's not always just going to be an organization that is just painting or just focusing on children.”
The institute also provides adult art classes. Price said adults need creativity in their lives, too.
“Just because what we're doing now is great and it works doesn't mean that there aren't other things out there that we can add and be even better,” she said.
Price said those involved with the nonprofit believe what they're doing is important and makes a difference in people's lives.
“It's just been an easy labor of love, and I'm pretty amazed that I get paid to do it,” she said. “I want to be here all the time.”