Photography courtesy of Suad Bejtovic Photography.
If you spent any amount of time in Frisco over the last few years, you felt the momentum around all kinds of art-related ideas. Spearheaded by Frisco Association for the Arts (Frisco Arts) and its tireless executive director Tammy Meinershagen, Frisconians are warming up to the idea that Frisco needs to be a destination for the arts as much as it is for sports and business.
And then you may have even found out the somewhat surprising fact that there are twice as many art students in the Frisco ISD system than there are student-athletes. This is the story of some of those students, who created and manage Frisco Arts Youth Council, where students from sixth to twelfth grade can get involved in the arts projects around town.
What is the role of the Frisco Arts Youth Council?
The Frisco Arts Youth Council (FAYC) supports Frisco Arts by providing a volunteer base for community events and offering insight into the varied artistic interests of Frisco youth. Members of the FAYC are high school students who live in the DFW metroplex.
It all started in the summer of 2017 when Reedy High School student Cooper Damm was working toward his Eagle Scout title and needed to come up with a service-related project. His sister was taking violin lessons from Tammy, so he reached out to her for assistance.
Before long, he created a group of students that would work to enable the young artists to participate in the Frisco Arts organization.
Through the FAYC, students can earn service hours, meet new friends and get involved in the larger community of artists in and around Frisco. (The Youth Council is open to members outside of Frisco, so if you know a young artist in Plano, McKinney or elsewhere, be sure to share this article with them!)
The FAYC now has over 30 members, which include some truly world-class artists in a variety of disciplines; we met with a few members of the group’s leadership team.
Meet the Student-led Leadership Team
The current President is Maansi Chodavarapu, who says that her role is simply to be a glue for the group, primarily through communications. The leadership team uses the GroupMe app for day-to-day conversations since their busy schedules don’t allow for many traditional in-person meetings.
Maansi is a visual artist with a love for graphic novels and movies, and a focus on the emotions behind the arts. For her, the Youth Council is an experience that widens horizons, bringing students in touch with new ideas and promoting communication and discovery. “Art makes life a little more colorful”, she says.
Jessie Yu, the Vice President, won the Presidential Volunteer Service Gold Award twice (for volunteering 250 or more hours in a school year), and when you see her resume, you understand why. Among many other things, she’s a lead volunteer for the Perot Museum, and she’s a fierce debate competitor and speech performer; she even started the debate team at Jasper High School.
She mentions that volunteering with the FAYC opens up more opportunities and allows students to get involved in the business community – she was recently a marketing intern in a local firm and used the knowledge she gained there to create a lot of the graphic design that you can see on the Youth Council web page.
One aspect of serving on the FAYC that she appreciates is gaining experience with organizing events and projects, which builds confidence and communication skills that will be useful later in life.
Erika Diaz, the Social Media chair, is a cello player and comes from a family of musicians. In her native Mexico, access to music in schools is very limited, so she loves how students in Frisco schools have so many opportunities to get involved with the arts very early on.
The Centennial High School senior was inspired by the mission of Frisco Arts to make art accessible and available to everyone. She speaks passionately about creating a community of young artists who not only work with each other but also meet established adult artists and get new perspectives.
FAYC Upcoming Activities
There are a few upcoming opportunities to meet these talented young members of our community. The FAYC connected with the Frisco Lakes neighborhood to organize an artist showcase, where young musicians, dancers, visual artists, and others will present and perform in front of an audience of Frisco Lakes residents.
The showcase is scheduled for November 15 at the Frisco Lakes amenities center and the Youth Council is inviting any and all student artists who wish to participate to get in touch with them soon. The proceeds from the showcase will go toward the Frisco Arts scholarship fund.
Of course, about 30 or so of these amazing students will be volunteering at the first Frisco Arts 5K Run and Walk on October 6 – they’ll be directing traffic along the run route, running the registration booth and assisting elsewhere as needed throughout the event. (They would also be happy to get some more helping hands; there’s still time to contact them and sign up to volunteer!)
The best part of the arts movement in Frisco? Its future looks just as bright as its present thanks to these young, hard-working, dedicated influencers.