Elizabeth Armstrong revels in her role connecting residents and visitors to Coachella Valley art and culture. In the three years since she relocated here to become director of Palm Springs Art Museum, she has marveled at the area’s seemingly endless creative activity as well as the talented, and discerning, people who continue to move here.
About 1 in 5 people employed in the Coachella Valley work in creative fields, according to a recent study, and the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau highlights the importance of art and culture in its Destination Development Plan.
“The arts are a huge draw and one of the reasons there’s revitalization in Palm Springs and in the whole desert,” Armstrong says. “At the same time, [visual and performing] artists are becoming more engaged with the public, so there’s this great relationship between community and creativity.”
Armstrong grew up on the East Coast and has lived in many places around the country, most recently in Minnesota, where she was founding curator of contemporary art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Here, she appreciates the heritage of art and architecture: “They’re fundamental to the quality of the place,” says Armstrong. “It’s the character and what attracts people, and the interest just continues to grow.”
With robust programming at the museum’s main venues, which include the Annenberg Theater, its Architecture and Design Center, and “The Galen” and Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden in Palm Desert, the museum is the cultural hub of the valley.