God works in mysterious ways…and in timelines that often don’t make sense to the natural mind!  Thank goodness His thoughts and ways are so far above, and BETTER, than ours!

My Dear EAS Family!

I wanted to update you on my most extraordinary journey!  As many of you know, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in June 2017.  Had a double mastectomy in August.  Started Chemo in September.  Went to London in October and just am so grateful for how amazingly well I’m doing!  Thank you Jesus!  And thank all of YOU for your prayers!  I KNOW God is carrying me, through you, as only He can!

It has also been during this same time frame that I have begun feeling a change coming…God’s stirring within me!  Dreams and assignments He has given me from the past.  Assignments I am yet to fulfill.

For those of you who don’t know, I came on staff at Word of Grace in 1992 and started our Performing/Creative Arts Department.  In 2004, I stepped away to give my full attention to EAS (Experience Arts School), yet remained on the Mesa campus.  During that time EAS grew exponentially, and in fact, too quickly for me to manage.  It was during that time, 2008, I was asked to come back on staff for SIX MONTHS and assist Pastors Gary & Terry with the merger of Word of Grace and Citi Church.   I quickly fell in love with Terry and Judith.  They spoke my heart-language!  In those early days, they pulled the staff together for times of prayer and worship, and it was during one of those times that God gave me a vision (I wont go into detail) but I KNEW God was asking me to stay with them longer than what I had originally planned.  And I am soooo glad I did.  These past nine years at City of Grace, then HIllsong Phoenix, have been beyond what I could have ever imagined. Terry & Judith’s investment in me has catapulted me to places I would never have realized had God not crossed our paths. I am FOREVER grateful!

During this time, we had often spoken of EAS folding into Hillsong.  In fact, we actually took steps towards that several times, but it seemed at every attempt there was an interruption that prevented it from happening.  I now believe those ’interruptions’ were God’s.  And that I am now to take EAS out into our community. 

I know this does not, in the natural, make sense to take this HUGE step of faith right now.  I mean, who in their right mind, in the midst of fighting cancer, would leave their income and insurance benefits??  Right?!  But, I am confident this is what God is asking.  I’ve walked with Him MANY years, and my experience is He ALWAYS takes me where I must be COMPLETELY dependent upon Him.  And I would have it no other way.  

So, what does that mean?  On November 1st, I transitioned from ‘Hillsong Pastoral staff’ to a ‘key volunteer.’ Going forward, my full-time attention is now on EAS. 

Over the next couple of months, I will particularly be focusing my attention on preparing EAS for it’s launch into our community.  EAS will remain on the Mesa Campus through June 1st.  (Thank you Pastors Terry and Judith!) Then, in the name of Jesus, we will transition into our new facility (yet to be discovered) and be ready to launch August 2018.  There is MUCH work to be done, in a very short amount of time, but i’m confident God has a plan.  Already, I’ve seen His miraculous hand moving on our behalf and I couldn’t be more expectant.

Resuming our original vision to create a ‘Christian Juilliard’ Arts Program, I’ve already begun meeting with Master Artists that are assisting me with curriculum development that will infuse biblical truths into all of our technique training.  Pursuing excellence, we also, in Fall 2018, will begin introducing regular testing for our students to ensure they are building strong foundations in their particular art form and advancing as skilled Kingdom Artists.   Desiring to ensure consistent and quality training for our students, all teachers will be taken through a pilot program this Spring/Summer that will equip them to meet the new EAS standards of training that will be expected as a professional level training facility.  I couldn’t more excited about this.  

Our Programs of Study will include professional track programs for Young Adults;  pre-professional tracks for Elementary through High School age students; and varying performing/visual arts classes designed for students ages 3-adult.  In 2019, we will be holding open auditions for Dance, Theatre, Music, Aerial, Production, Visual Arts Companies, that will not only produce shows locally, but tour globally!

Lastly, over the next couple of months we will be organizing teams of volunteers that will position us for our launch this next Fall.  Teams will include:  Location Search Team (Commercial Realtors, General Contractors); Facility Build-Out Team (general contractors; carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters, dry wall specialists…) ; Technology Team (computer programmers; Theatrical Lighting Sound/Recording…);  P/R & Fundraising Team (Social Media, Website, Journalists, donation gatherers, people people) ; Events Team (Organization, Decor, Programming…); Production (Sets/Costumes/Audio/Visual) Team; Master Artists Team (Advanced Levels:  Education, Dance, Theatre, Music, Art, Production, Video/FIlm, Aerials, Art); Parents In Partnership Team (parents of present or past students) to name a few.

If you would like to hear more about this exciting vision, and how you can be a part of bringing it to fruition, please email us at info@experienceartsschool.com.  We would love to update you, connect you, and have you join us on this exciting journey!

Also, consider signing up for our EAS Newsflash at www.experienceartsschool.com to keep up-to-date on the latest happenings at EAS!    

To the future…..
Joani Castillo
EAS Founder/Artistic Director