AFA enriches the
lives of young people through music.
AFA (American Festival for the Arts) was founded in 1993 by Houston composer J. Todd Frazier as a series of touring music education residencies at colleges and museums in San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Stephenville, Texas. After two years of tours, AFA launched its flagship program, the SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL, in 1996. Acclaimed for safeguarding quality arts education experiences in times of economic decline, the Festival has grown to enroll over 500 second through twelfth-grade vocalists, instrumentalists, pianists and composers at two campuses every summer. The students participate in over 35,000 classroom hours of challenging, multi-week experiences in an atmosphere of supportive learning and camaraderie.
In 2010, AFA launched its year – round curriculum, which includes the HOUSTON GIRLS CHORUS, the AFA CHAMBER MUSIC ACADEMY and COMPOSER INSTITUTE, to provide unique and well-rounded experiences for grades 4-12. These programs offer weekend – based opportunities that challenge intermediate to advanced level musicians to their next level of musical accomplishment.
In 2011, AFA started its AFA IN SCHOOLS community outreach division that presents a broad range of school-based clinics, master classes and residencies that are designed to extend AFA’s mission to under-served populations throughout the region. AFA In Schools gives young people the opportunity to access enriching musical learning experiences customized for each population and/or school site.
In 2018, AFA started its newest curriculum, AFA FIRST, designed to give beginner musicians their first instrumental or choral experience. Provided in a supportive group setting, AFA First encourages shared learning, individual growth, and ensemble experience for grades 2-7.
As AFA continues in its third decade of service to our community, new initiatives are being implemented to broaden AFA’s impact throughout Southeast Texas.
AFA believes that every child should have access to quality arts instruction, regardless of that child’s socio-economic status or of fluctuations in support for arts programs in Texas schools. Ensuring that students have access to AFA programs regardless of their socio-economic status, AFA’s Scholarship Enrichment Fund underwrites AFA In Schools initiatives, the majority of which are provided subsidized, at low cost, or free of charge to participating students, and offers over two-thirds of students enrolled in AFA programs need-based financial aid, transportation assistance, and instrument support.
AFA’s flagship program, the SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL, provides the
most intensive, age-appropriate training that AFA offers. More than 500 grade
2-12 vocalists, instrumental performers, pianists and composers participate in
challenging, multi-week experiences in an atmosphere of supportive learning and
camaraderie at the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
All Summer Music
Festival programs are evaluated by students, parents and faculty. Both
qualitative and quantitative evaluation is sought to monitor program
effectiveness, ensure program goals are met and to determine impact on the
AFA’s YEAR-ROUND CURRICULUM (Chamber Music Academy, Composer
Institute, Houston Girls Chorus), presented with artistic support from several
of Houston’s finest arts organizations, offers unique after-school and weekend
learning opportunities in the fall/spring semesters that challenge intermediate
to advanced level musicians at their next level of musical accomplishment.
AFA’s CHAMBER MUSIC ACADEMY offers pianists and
instrumentalists the opportunity to work in small groups under the guidance of
professional musicians and is designed to increase instrumental ability, musical knowledge, and collaborative music making skills. Offered in collaboration with the Da Camera of Houston
Young Artist Program, the program culminates with formal recitals twice each
year and outreach concerts throughout the season.
AFA’s HOUSTON GIRLS CHORUS is a
pre-professional vocal and choral training experience for girls in grades 4-12
and is dedicated to providing young women with role models for their futures
and opportunities for community involvement.
Curriculum programs are evaluated by students and parents. Both qualitative and
quantitative evaluation is sought to monitor program effectiveness, ensure
program goals are met and to determine impact on the students involved.
AFA IN SCHOOLS — presenting a broad range of classroom-based
residencies and master classes that enhance arts curricula and impact
underserved communities and populations through innovative, custom programming.
Divided in to “Discovery” (beginner) and Endeavor (intensive) levels, AFA IN
SCHOOLS gives young people the opportunity to access enriching arts experiences
in musical learning opportunities customized for each population and/or school.
AFA in Schools
presents a broad range of classroom-based residencies, clinics and master classes
in local schools for a variety of experience levels and backgrounds. AFA In
Schools enhances school curricula through innovative programming customized to
meet the evolving needs of area schools, teachers and students. In 2018-19, AFA offered residencies, clinics and master classes to 25 schools
throughout Greater Houston, many of which are presented through collaborations
with HISD's Arts Connect.
In 2018-19, AFA hosted programs, residencies, clinics, and master classes in Houston ISD, Pasadena ISD, Aldine ISD, Cy Fair ISD, and Klein ISD and also provided programming for the blind and visually impaired at the Lighthouse of Houston.
One of the many rewards of AFA’s work in the community comes from the impact AFA programs have on the young people who participate. While we almost always see an enhancement of musical ability, we also observe the less tangible benefits of musical study and performance: increased self-confidence, questioning/aesthetics/creativity in daily decision-making, and teamwork and leadership skills. For example, the choir students at Marshall Middle School stunned the audience at AFA’s annual luncheon with their performances of two original works created in response to Hurricane Harvey. These students learned songwriting techniques and composed the lyrics and melody resulting in two moving pieces about their experiences with Harvey. In one piece entitled “Together We Have Hope,” the boys’ sing “Everywhere we look we see disaster/The shallow water rising at our feet/The scary wind and thunder getting stronger/Distress and worry everyone we meet/Together we have hope/With hope we know we'll face the light of day/Together we have hope/United, we will find a way.” In the other piece, “Our Hands,” the girls’ sing, “My hands are here for helping/My hands are here to care/My hands are here for working/My hands are here to share/The storm that hit was a tragedy/The dark days scared us all/Fear and loss drove hope away/Our neighbors heard our call.” This program provided these kids with an avenue to process and cope with the tragedy.
All AFA in Schools
programs are evaluated by teachers, principals and students as appropriate.
Both qualitative and quantitative evaluation is sought to monitor program
effectiveness, ensure program goals are met and to determine impact on the
Native Houstonian, arts education leader and public school advocate, Executive Director Amanda Fisher is responsible for the leadership and overall management of AFA, ensuring all programs reflect AFA’s mission of enriching the lives of young people through music. She previously served as AFA’s Chief Operating Officer and General Manager before becoming Executive Director in 2018. A trained vocalist, Amanda began her career in artist management and public relations until she joined AFA Founder J. Todd Frazier on the Executive Team to create AFA’s inaugural program –the Summer Music Festival. Celebrating her 25th year with the organization, Amanda has helped shape the organization into Houston’s leading non-profit provider of music education programs for young people.
An active community volunteer, Amanda has served on many local non-profit boards, including The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center, the Lawndale Arts Center and Young Audiences of Houston, advising on best practices, management and fundraising. She has served on the leadership teams in Houston Independent School District (HISD) Region VII since 2007 on both the local and district level. Appointments include: the first two – term PTO President at Briargrove Elementary School; Shared Decision Making Committee at Tanglewood Middle School; Principal Search Committee for Briargrove Elementary School; Renaming Committee for Tanglewood Middle School; Planning Committee for Mark White Elementary School; District VII Advisory Committee from 2013 to 2017.
Amanda currently serves on the Shared Decision Making Committee and as Board Underwriting Chair at Briargrove Elementary School and as Board Treasurer of HISD’s Lamar High School Class of 2020. Amanda and her husband David, Director of Foundations for The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, are the proud parents of Elizabeth, a senior at Lamar High School and Vivian, a fifth grader at Briargrove Elementary School.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.