TONYA BRAMLAGE – A hallmark of authentic leadership is the alignment of people around a mission and its values. The liaison program at the Boca Grande Art Center is designed to support upcoming artists with comprehensive approaches for the professional development of the whole person, facilitating discoveries that shape new ways of being, and giving greater definition to individual expressions to its students on scholarship.
It is indisputably one of the most invaluable benefits of the program. One that is designed to surely raise up the next generation of artists here in Boca Grande.
“Nonprofits are the lifeblood of the community bringing lasting change in peoples’ lives,” said Sue Shaffer, scholarship committee chair.
In 2020, the scholarship committee convened with a vision to come alongside art students in the community and bridge the gaps that prohibit them from successfully graduating from art school. The committee presented findings after visiting local area schools and art education programs that focused on the need for mentorship. Typical tuition costs for a freshman year at art school runs upwards of $10,000 per semester.
Nancy Galliger, first year liaison to the scholarship program, knows from experience how vital the transition is for art students. She has two granddaughters who attended and graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design.
“Offering verbal encouragement is a powerful component to the collegiate art experience,” she said.
It is easy to become discouraged and overwhelmed for students when they are away from home during the first year at school. Peggy Seybolt, committee co-chair stated, “We came together and really aspired to provide these students with the necessary support for successful, concentrated focus on art school pursuits.”
Equipping these students to advocate for themselves in every aspect of their future professional careers was the ultimate goal behind the establishment of the liaison program.
The Boca Grande Art Center scholarship committee unanimously decided to formally institute the appointment of a liaison to all prospective scholarship recipients. This created an immediate opportunity for liaison Samantha Stone to bring her background as a life coach into play.
“I volunteered without hesitation. Volunteering to liaison is a way to give a hand up and not just a hand out.” The role of the liaison is to enable communication between two or more groups. Liaisons provide coordination of their activities and maintain a link of co-operation for working together. The volunteer liaison is the person who acts to assist interaction between parties, to arrange connection for interrelationship, and promotes communication for the express purposes of maintaining mutual understanding while actively overseeing the progress of each student.
Modeling the liaison program after the Boca Grande Woman’s Club program, the Boca Grande Art Center formed an alliance for the successful completion of students seeking a bachelor’s degree at 4 year institutions. The liaison program requires that scholars submit a personal letter stating their goals, prior achievements, extra-curricular activities, community service, a current portfolio of artwork, and grades demonstrating a “B” or better grade average each semester.
“Rewarding fewer students with greater scholarship amounts allows us to become conduits for their passions to grow and enables their commitment to a future in the arts,” Shaffer explained.
The spring art show is a momentous occasion for scholars and liaisons to come together and showcase the talents of upcoming artists’ work.
Zoom meetings, emails, texts, and phone calls between students and liaisons have allowed for the exchange of reciprocal energies.
“It has been such a rewarding experience to watch my student grow and form himself into a confident, visionary artist,” scholarship committee member and liaison to the programs first graduating senior Xiavahan Thomas, Melissa Loughlin, shared.
Opening doors to the arts is vital for bringing the next generation in to the home church of the Boca Grande Art Center. The intentional efforts of the liaison program equips and establishes aspiring artists with a vast array of gifts and talents to offer our community.
If you would like to make a difference by volunteering or becoming a sponsor please contact the Boca Grande Art Center at 964-1700. You can make checks payable to BGAC, PO Box 979, Boca Grande, FL 33921 and write “Scholarship Fund” in the memo line. The BGAC is a non-profit organization, and your support will be a direct investment into the livelihood of students creating a difference through the community with art.