Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I just found out today that Arrowmont Craft School is facing a major challenge. The Pi Phi Fraternity that owns the property and founded the school as a service mission is planning to sell to a group of Saudi investors, forcing the school to relocate from downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Evidently the large amount of cash is proving shamefully irresistible. The Arrowmont Board of Directors is working hard to preserve the school and you can follow the ongoing discussions on the Arrowmont website.
I have an article on my website about my own teaching experience at Arrowmont. I have taught there five times, and the story of my first experience is on my website dougstowe.com and called:Turning Left at the Hard Rock Cafe

If you know any members of Pi Phi, ask them to raise a fuss. Arrowmont is a cultural treasure that must not be abandoned to the whims of Saudi investors or the poor judgment of a small group at the head of the Pi Phi organization. No doubt they are thinking of other wonderful things to do with all that money, not knowing that Arrowmont is wonderful enough and deserves their increased commitment, respect and support.

If you have been to Gatlinburg or have been to Arrowmont, you may find the juxtaposition strange. Arrowmont is a retreat into exploration of human creativity, while Gatlinburg is a mecca of consumption poised at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Want to add more stuff to your collection of meaningless stuff? Gatlinburg is your kind of place and lots of fun besides. Want to add to your skill and artistic vision in the company of those who share your primal longings for creativity and growth? Check out Arrowmont and then do everything you can to help sustain its beautiful and unique campus environment.


  1. Anonymous5:54 AM

    Oh, good grief! Apparently nothing is sacred, or worth keeping because of it's inherent value. My time at Arrowmont was wonderful, and the world does not need more tacky condo developments.


  2. Mario, if you have half the loose money in the world, I guess you get to do whatever you want, just like if you have most of the bombs in the world, you can do whatever you want. The callousness of the Saudi investors is nothing like the callousness of the Bush-Cheney regime in the grand scheme of things.

    In the meantime, the Pi Beta Phi fraternity is well represented on the Arrowmont board and many Pi Phis feel just as you and I do about the school.

  3. Doug, I am deeply saddened to hear this news.

  4. you may have already found the petition and website, but just in case you haven't:


    There are some good posts from supportive Pi Phis. What can be done, if anything, remains uncertain. People are just trying to raise awareness.

  5. Doug, Thank you so much for calling attention to this very real challenge to Arrowmont. The petition signing is critical to our efforts! The powers that be think that Arrowmont's support is only "regional" - i.e. Nashville. How wrong! To sell our heritage for any amount of money is a travesty!

    Ann Marie