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story.lead_photo.caption Katie Crumby, left, of Melbourne and Jennifer Blankenship of Mount Olive talk while checking out the auction items during the Arkansas Craft School Gala last year. This year’s gala will take place Nov. 21 at the Skillet Restaurant at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View.

— The Arkansas Craft School will hold its 10th annual fundraising gala Nov. 21 at the Skillet Restaurant at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, beginning at 6 p.m.

“The gala is our Arkansas Craft School’s major fundraiser,” said Gin Brown, president of the Arkansas Craft School Board. “It’s a time that we talk about all that has gone on at the school during the year. We have a sit-down meal. We have live and silent auctions. Then we also have entertainment from Danny Dozier, an area musician that we all just love. It’s quite an event.

“It certainly helps us do all the good work of the craft school.”

Jealene Cohen, business manager for the school, said the auctions include items made by local artisans.

“We have a very enjoyable event with the artistic community in Mountain View and surrounding areas,” she said. “Every year, believe it not, in this small community, the gala and the craft school in general just keep growing. Two years ago, we moved from a one-room building into a larger 5,000-square-foot building that houses several studios where the classes are taught. The number of classes we have conducted over this past year has almost doubled from the previous years.”

Brown, who is an original board member of the Arkansas Craft School, said that in years past, 115 to 125 people have attended the gala.

“This is our 10th anniversary, and we hope to have an even larger crowd,” she said.

People who want to attend the gala can call the craft school at (870) 269-8397 or go to www.arkansascraftschool.org and click on the link for the gala.

Tickets are $35 and include a meal of either flame-grilled sirloin, salmon or a vegetable stir-fry.

“They can call us, and we’ll hold a ticket,” Brown said. “We have to let the Skillet know so they can order the food.”

Brown said the school is backed by a number of people from throughout Arkansas and beyond.

“We have a lot of support with our live and silent auctions,” she said. “It’s a time to show off the works of local and area artists.”

Cohen said people from all across the United States come to the school to take classes.

“We had a family call us from California last summer and flew here specifically to take a knife class from James Crowell, who is a Master Bladesmith,” she said. “We have people in from Florida, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas. The Arkansas Craft School does gather quite a bit of attention from outside of Arkansas. The majority of our students come from across the state, as far away as Monticello, Rison, Eureka Springs and Jonesboro.”

Brown said she is the only original board member left for the Arkansas Craft School, which was started in 2007.

Wright Pillow was the first director of the school.

“He was the driving force,” Brown said. “At a tour, I went by his shop to look at his work. We got to talking about it. I said that it sounds like something Ozarka College [in Mountain View] would be interested in because I was the campus director. We got started that way.”

The first classes for the Arkansas Craft School were held in spring 2008.

“When the craft school was being talked about, it was an idea from the Arkansas Craft Guild,” she said. “This is [a venue for] artisans from all over the state, and the home base is in Mountain View.”

“I could see a way for [Ozarka] to promote Mountain View and train artisans,” Brown said.

Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or mbuffalo@arkansasonline.com.

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