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Our Mission

Cultivating community through accessible arts experiences for all. 


We Know Santa!

Did you know there are three types of elves? The first type makes shoes in the night. The second makes the delicious cookies we all know and love. The third? They work up north on The Big Show. Elves are fantastic helpers who are small in stature, like me! Growing up in Missoula I was always pegged as a cookie-making elf, even lovingly earning the nickname ‘Keebs’ in high school due to my short stature and advanced baking skills. But it never felt quite right, because I’ve always been a giant fan of the holidays. For me, the holiday season in Missoula has always been a time of pure joy, and I have many fond holiday memories based in the arts. I smile warmly to think of Tuba Christmas, the local production of the Nutcracker, school holiday concerts, making homemade ornaments, and driving in the South Hills to see everyone’s creative energy lit up in their yard. Now that I’m celebrating my fourth holiday season at the ZACC, I think it has become abundantly clear that I am, in fact, a Holiday elf.

One of my favorite things about working at the ZACC is giving people both young and old new art-based holiday memories. As a Holiday elf I’m especially at home here, because each year the ZACC works directly with Santa himself! That’s right, WE KNOW HIM! And we do our best to keep Santa jolly. We always host his favorite gallery show, the Friends & Family Show, celebrating our beautiful and diverse Missoula arts community. Santa can’t wait to see the show this year, as we have over 60 artists participating — more than ever before! He also can’t wait for us to open our doors for the annual ZACC Holiday Open House this Friday, December 4. Santa’s excited for folks to see the gallery show, take some photos with a few life-size cutouts he gave us (Mrs. Claus is great at taking trip photos, and Santa is a pretty funny model!), and make some holiday magic at home with free take-home ornament painting kits. Santa is a big fan of DIY arts and eating cookies, and there’s a reason our Paint-a-Cookie-Plate for Santa event combines those two exact things. He’s so excited about our pandemic-safe Paint-a-Plate event this year that he’s going to be giving free home delivery to every family who places an online order for pottery plate packages from December 4 through December 11! He’ll be test driving the new ZACC van on Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13, bringing cookie plates and his own special brand of joy to every participating Missoula family.

We know this year’s holiday season will be different for so many reasons. But we also know that Santa is super clever, and will find a way to be there for Missoulians who are counting on him. He and his Holiday elves have been working hard to make sure that he can safely spend extra time with the ZACC spreading love and joy, making his list and checking it twice, all while still keeping the pandemic in check. We hope to see you at the ZACC wearing your favorite mask this December, because there’s room for every Missoulian on the nice list.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season, 

Heather Stockton, ZACC Director of Operations

Artist Ann Karp of Sideways Gaze
  • Kia Liszak, ZACC Executive Director
    Kia Liszak, ZACC Executive Director

    We believe in the power of the arts to create the human connections, innovations, and healing to make significant positive change in our world and our community, and the ZACC’s programs serving youth, veterans, families, and seniors are on the forefront of that change.

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