History of The Fine Arts Association

60 years ago, in 1957, The Fine Arts Association of Willoughby, Ohio was incorporated by co-founders Jim and Louise Savage both of whom were highly talented musicians and music teachers. By 1965, they outgrew their home-based center. Their board and private funders came together and purchased a building in Willoughby. But when enrollment grew and in 1972, a new building was built on Euclid Avenue in Willoughby.

FAA’s service area began expanding throughout the Northeast Ohio community including, but not limited to, Lake, Geauga and Eastern Cuyahoga Counties. A study confirmed that the physical space was reaching maximum capacity and ideas began percolating about building and upgrading to add additional educational and artistic spaces.

From 2013-2017, the FAA board and staff worked diligently on this $3 million “Growing Strong” campaign fervently believing that art is essential to the vibrancy of a community. Key support for the campaign came from federal, state and local grants, foundations, corporations, board members, and individuals.

On August 26, 2017, the new space was proudly dedicated ensuring that FAA would continue to inspire and transform lives through the arts. 

Today, FAA serves over 5,000 students and 14,000 patrons throughout Northeast Ohio!


Beginning in 1957, The Fine Arts Association, formerly known as the “Willoughby School of Fine Arts”, began in the founders, Jim and Louise Savage’s home in Willoughby where music lessons took place.


In 1972, the Savages relocated their growing vision to a building on Euclid Avenue in Willoughby to what is now the Homestead House Bed & Breakfast.


Then, in 2013, they raised $3 million through the “Growing Strong” campaign to build their forever home for The Fine Arts Association: the current FAA building on Mentor Avenue. Key support for the campaign came from federal, state, and local grants, foundations, corporations, board members, and individuals.

In 2017, an expansion on the building, the side closest to Mentor Avenue, was complete with new and accessible bathrooms, studios, the Marvis Gillson Gallery for Student Art, and several other spaces that continue to inspire and transform lives through the arts.

The Fine Arts Association would not be where it is today with the support from the Women’s Committee of The Fine Arts Association. More information about the Women’s Committee can be found here.

The Legacy Lives On

Pictured: James Savage (L) Louise Savage (R)

As we remember Jim and Louise Savage, we remember that they were as much about their art as they were about the need to share the arts with others. Mr. Savage was a dedicated advocate for the arts. From the start of the idea of a school of music, Mr. Savage could often be found convening influential people and collaborating with movers and shakers in the broader community promoting the need for spaces for art instruction and performance. Whether he met with people in his home, at an informal night of music sharing, chatting with VIP’s over coffee or encouraging someone to host a dinner fundraiser, Jim Savage knew how to make things happen.

Sixty two years later, thanks to the Savages, The Fine Arts Association stands firmly as the pre-eminent all-encompassing community arts center here in Northeast Ohio. 

In memory of Jim and Louise Savage, the family has started a fund for the continued operation of The Fine Arts Association. Friends and family of the Savages and The Fine Arts Association are welcome to donate to this fund at any time. Once the fund reaches endowed level, the distributions will help to support the organization in perpetuity. We are forever grateful for Mr. Savage’s tenacity and dedication to ensuring that quality arts live on throughout Northeast Ohio. 

For more information about the Jim & Louise Savage fund, please contact: 

Development Director, Yvonne Delgado Thomas: ythomas@fineartsassociation.org