007: Summer Camp Programs Within a Non-Profit Arts School feat. Sheila Fortson

007: Summer Programs Within a Non-Profit Arts School feat. Sheila Fortson

In this episode, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Sheila Fortson, a multifaceted musician with a passion for arts education. With a background in piano performance and a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Art, Sheila’s journey in music has been nothing short of inspiring. From her early days performing in choirs and orchestras to founding the FAME Center in Chicago, she has dedicated herself to providing equitable access to arts education for underserved communities. Join us as Sheila shares insights into the mission and evolution of FAME Center, the diverse range of arts disciplines it offers, and the importance of flexibility in programming. From discussing the challenges and benefits of operating as a nonprofit organization to offering advice for music teachers running summer camps, Sheila’s wealth of experience and enthusiasm for music and art education shines through in this engaging conversation.

  • Sheila discusses FAME Center’s mission to provide equitable access to arts education for underserved communities in Chicago.
  • She shares her journey from teaching piano to founding FAME Center and the evolution of the center’s programs.
  • FAME Center offerings with a variety of arts disciplines, including music, visual arts, theater, creative writing, and digital arts.
  • The importance of flexibility in programming and gauging community interest to determine program offerings.
  • The challenges and benefits of operating as a nonprofit organization, including fundraising and grant applications.
  • She discusses FAME’s scholarship programs and themed summer camps where students explore various arts disciplines and create projects.
  • Sheila further discusses their camp structures, themes, camp size and staffing, additional costs and budgeting.
  • Advice for music teachers running summer camps.
  • Expanding a private studio and exploring commercial spaces for expansion to facilitate growth and provide diverse learning opportunities for students.

Links Mentioned

Today’s Guest

With a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and a master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Art, Sheila Fortson brings a wide range of experience to her studio. She has been playing and performing music since childhood. Her extensive background in choirs, orchestras and piano performance gives her a broad look at the world around her and a fresh perspective on teaching music. With a passion for music education, she began FAME Center as a way to broaden her ability to educate the young and young at heart. Sheila is the founder and executive director of FAME Center and is excited to share her love of music and art education with the South Loop and surrounding Chicago communities.

About Rachel Ehring

Dr. Rachel Ehring is a pianist, teacher, music administrator, and lover of piano teaching gadgets. She holds a DMA in Collaborative Piano from the University of Colorado Boulder and a MM in Accompanying from the University of Kansas. She currently serves as Director at St. John’s Conservatory of the Arts in Orange County, CA. Previously, she held positions at Concordia University Irvine and Henderson State University. Rachel is passionate about empowering music teachers to create engaging and exciting lessons for students of all ages. When she isn’t playing the piano, you might find Rachel reading books with her son or walking her beagle Frieda.


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