Organizers Working to Create LGBTQA Youth Chorus and Band

Founding FCPA board members (L to R) Ken Strickland, Adriane Fulson Shands, Kristin Chow, Le T. Nguyen and Elven Hickman

An organization that will manage two local LGBTQA youth performing arts ensembles is getting underway. Fountain City Performing Arts Inc. will oversee both an instrumental ensemble, called Fountain City Youth Band, and a vocal ensemble, called Fountain City Youth Chorus. Organizers are laying the groundwork to form these groups, and their goals include empowering greater Kansas City adolescents and engaging youth participation in the arts.

Board members hope to hold the groups’ first stand-alone concert around October 2019. First, however, a creative director must be brought on board. Early 2019 may bring collaborations with other youth organizations, and next summer, a collaborative showcase is envisioned. Two independent Fountain City concerts annually and regular outreach performances would be standard.

The formal announcement of Fountain City Performing Arts’ existence will be made at a 10th anniversary event for PerformOutKC, the area’s first LGBTQA youth performing arts organization. That event will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at Diastole Scholars’ Center, 2501 Holmes St., Kansas City, Mo.

PerformOutKC will continue to focus on theatrical performance. Fountain City will concentrate on the instrumental and vocal ensembles. The two entities will also collaborate, as they share a basic mission.

Fountain City organizers want to connect youth of all backgrounds and enrich their understanding of social justice and equality. They also want to empower them to use their individual talents to create innovative and original artistry. These skills can then be used as instruments of social change.

Reaching at-risk young people is important to Fountain City Performing Arts. LGBTQ youth can be especially vulnerable to bullying, isolation and suicide. Bringing them together with peers for creative expression can be healing.

Fountain City Performing Arts managing director Elven Hickmon says the age range for the two groups will be 13-18 years. The PerformOutKC database is one source for participant recruitment, and others include word of mouth and the youth group KC Passages. Hickmon has talked with local schoolteachers and administrators about how best to find interested young people. Teacher resource groups and counselors are also potential points of entry.

Hickmon said the new group has been incorporated since January 2018, and it is working on obtaining tax-exempt status. Logistics such as meeting/rehearsal location still need to be worked out. A central location might seem sensible, but some participants might lack transportation. Satellite rehearsals (at Passages Q-Space in Olathe, Kan., for example) and virtual rehearsals (via FaceTime) are possible solutions to this problem.

FCPA is a member of GALA Choruses, a North American LGBT choral organization. Other local members are Heartland Men’s Chorus, the Kansas City Women’s Chorus, and PerformOutKC. Eventually, the Youth Chorus could perform at a GALA convention.

Locally, mentorship and collaboration could take place with adult LGBTQIA groups such as HMC, the women’s chorus, Transfinity KC Chorus, and Mid America Freedom Band.

In the future, adult volunteers will be needed for efforts such as marketing, fundraising and musical instrument drives. For more information, check out the links.

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