The Verdigris Ensemble student leadership cohort takes students from the concert hall to the boardroom.
Established last fall, the new educational initiative was developed to help students understand opportunities in the arts industry by exploring entrepreneurship, art and business infrastructure. Micaela Bottari, Education and Development Manager for Verdigris Ensemble, created the program to help fill the gaps she noticed in her own education.
“I left university, I have a degree in classical music and I could basically work as a choir singer anywhere, but I had very little knowledge of how to start my own artistic project, to start a band, start an organization, anything along those lines,” Bottari said.
The program consists of 15 students between the ages of 14 and 18 and acts as an extension of the initial educational programs of the Verdigris Ensemble at the WE Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy. Many students attend the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center and apply for college.
“It’s a pivotal time to decide how you’re going to move forward with your life,” Bottari said. “This program is, in my mind, an opportunity not only to help them ask questions about what they want from their artistic career, but also to give them the tools to realize if they don’t follow this path towards a institution, into a college program, they still have those skills.”
The students’ artistic interests range from modeling to music. Angela Gomez is a senior from Townview High School who plans to study sustainable architecture in college. She is president of her high school choir and is very interested in the arts. The student leadership cohort intrigued her.
“I wanted to explore different forms that I like to do, like writing,” Gomez said. “I wanted to be around other people who had different forms of artistic expression. I joined and I was not disappointed. We have a lot of talented people in our group. »
The program gives students insight into the organizational structure of the choral ensemble with staff and board members acting as mentors. Verdigris Ensemble also leads workshops with professional artists explaining their professional background.
“It’s important to share these stories so that students have the opportunity to connect goals with people,” Bottari said.
Featured performers include Big Thought’s Sergio Garcia, New York hip-hop collective Space Cade7s, former SAG-AFTRA attorney Kat Krone and City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture Councilwoman Vicki Meek .
“It’s a very colorful community. It’s so fun to see where each other’s adventure takes them,” Gomez said.
As a young artist working in the professional nonprofit arts world, Bottari realized that many artists don’t know how a nonprofit works, how it’s established, or how a board works. non-profit administration.
“It seems crazy to me that we don’t teach anyone how this structure works,” Bottari said.
The choral ensemble has invited four students from the cohort, a president, a vice-president, a secretary and a treasurer, to sit on its board of directors and actively participate in the decision-making process.
“I think it’s easier to answer all of these questions when you’re in the room experiencing them,” Bottari said.
Bottari asked interested students to prepare a two-minute pitch on why they wanted to serve on the board. Gomez began preparing his pitch.
“I wanted to gain experience handling different components of a board,” Gomez said.
Gomez practiced her speech in her car, hoping to hone her public speaking skills. It didn’t go as planned.
“But when the time came, I forgot everything I had rehearsed,” Gomez said.
Gomez improvised, explaining what the Student Leadership Cohort means to her, her desire to collaborate, and her interest in learning more about budgets and the trade-offs within a professional council. She was chosen as president.
“I wanted people to know I was there for this, not just for the title,” Gomez said.
After developing their skills, the student leadership cohort creates an art project using their diverse talents.
“The way they approached the storytelling element is really inspiring as they repeatedly asked the question ‘Am I the right person to tell this story?’ at the forefront of their work,” Bottari said. “What I really love about working with them is that they come to everything with such thoughtfulness and care. They are incredibly intuitive with each other.
The collaborative nature of the project is effortless for this group of teenagers.
“The people in there are the greatest I’ve ever met,” Gomez said. “It’s really about teamwork and I think that sums up SLC [Student Leadership Cohort] volume.”
Whatever career path she chooses, Gomez will use the skills she learned through the student leadership cohort to act boldly and achieve her dreams.
“I would say an important skill is to never be afraid to reach out to anyone or everyone. You never know what connections there might be,” Gomez said.
Learn more: https://www.verdigrismusic.org/