he crowd begins to stand in a rousing ovation for the flautist, who’s just finished a memorable solo from Mozart’s Concerto No. 2 in D major for Flute and Orchestra.
Conductor Daniel Black reaches out and pumps Fridkis’s hand in a vigorous shake. The solo, and the entire orchestra, was sublime, the sort you’d expect to see in a city like New York or San Francisco, or at least in Fort Worth, where the symphony is from.
Last Thursday, though, Fridkis, Black and the entire Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra graced the stage of Brownwood High School’s Fine Arts Center, thanks to the efforts of a longstanding local institution: the Arts Council of Brownwood.
The Council was founded in 1982 as the Community Cultural Affairs Commission of Brownwood. In 1998 it formally changed its name to the Arts Council.
For years the Council has worked in the background of many Brownwood events. It has helped underwrite organizations like the Brownwood Art Association, the Brown County Museum of History and Lyric Theatre. It oversees the prestigious annual Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit.
But with last year’s inaugural Cinco de Mayo celebration and events like the orchestra concert, Arts Council treasurer Dean Kiesling said the organization is working to establish an identity of its own.
“We’re trying to move from an organization that just gives money to people,” Kiesling said, “to an organization that’s actually planning things.”
Kiesling said the first Brownwood Cinco de Mayo event had a turnout of about 2,500 people, and hopes to bump that number up to over 4,000 this year. With the sponsorships from that event, Kiesling said, the organization can host more events like the orchestra concert.
“The first time we sponsored the symphony was two years ago,” said Arts Council volunteer Nancy Anderson, referencing the FWSO’s 2015 visit to Brownwood. “As an Arts Council we’ve kind of made a commitment to have them come every other year. It takes us the two years to save our portion, and then we get a grant to cover the rest.”
This year’s concert was made possible by a grant from the Texas Commission of the Arts.
The Arts Council has big ideas for the future, in addition to the biennial FWSO concert and the Cinco de Mayo event replete with performers and great food. Anderson said the organization is hoping to sponsor a sculpture show in the near future, for instance.
The Arts Council members said the number one way to support their group is to attend their activities. They’re off to a good start on that front, as the high school Fine Arts Center was nearly full for the symphony.
And with their outreach to children and students, the organization hopes to inspire another generation of art lovers. “We feel very strongly about partnering with Howard Payne whenever possible,” Anderson said. “That’s why not only the high school kids got in with their IDs, so did Howard Payne.” The Fort Worth Symphony also played two special Friday-morning concerts specifically for Brownwood ISD elementary students.
“We also have a commitment to provide art opportunities for the students of the schools,” Anderson said.
The next Arts Council of Brownwood event will be the Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 5. More information can be found on Facebook or at www.brownwoodartscouncil.org.