Small Non-Profit Makes Big Impact on Houston Community

Style Magazine Newswire | 11/16/2020, 2:01 p.m.

Ars Lyrica Houston, a niche organization with 15 years of world-class historical performances, including a Grammy nominated recording, is partnering with governmental entities, other non-profits, and local businesses to create meaningful programming that benefits its artists and Houston’s diverse communities. The organization has established a substantial network with reach beyond the presentation of in-person concerts and programs. In partnership with organizations like Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Insiders, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston Methodist’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine, Houston Airports System/Harmony in the Air, Arts Connect Houston, and Young Audiences of Houston, Ars Lyrica is making personal connections with its audiences and patrons that fortify the rich culture of Houston, bringing life and context to classical music.

Community engagement has taken on a new meaning in this recently-changed landscape where the performing arts are consumed primarily at home instead of in the concert hall or at dedicated venues like schools, museums, or other public venues. The challenge of location-based performance has incentivized Ars Lyrica to rethink the way they engage their audiences and how they think about sustaining their programming. “Amidst the new challenges of deciphering small business loans, CARES Act grants, and pivoting to virtual fundraising and audience building, Ars Lyrica staff, boards, and artists have found a renewed sense of purpose and relevance in creating new virtual and in-person offerings that answer fast-growing needs in our communities,” remarks Kinga Ferguson, Ars Lyrica Executive Director. “Whether we perform at the Houston Methodist to give healthcare workers a morale boost at the start of a long shift, alleviate the stress of mid-pandemic travel at the Bush Intercontinental Airport, partner with local businesses on socially-distanced outdoor events, or help HISD students and educators navigate the isolation of virtual learning with interactive bilingual and social-emotional learning programs, we continue to find new meaningful ways to serve the Houston community.

Ars Lyrica recently invested in a high-quality, professional recording of its outreach program Orígenes. This bilingual program introduces students to music from the Spanish and Latin American Renaissance, continuing Ars Lyrica’s mission to bring classical music to schools throughout the city. Featuring professionals from Spain and Mexico, Orígenes showcases a tangible career in the performing arts for diverse artists while bringing students closer to the performance than was ever possible in the assembly setting. This program reaches thousands of students and is accompanied by supplemental worksheets for further learning as well as an option for a live virtual Q&A session with the artists.

Ferguson ensures that Ars Lyrica has an increasingly significant impact on the Houston community. Under her leadership, the organization has been invited to participate in the Mid-America Alliance’s Engage Extension Program, specifically designed to extend learning around the call for nonprofits to prioritize DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Accessibility) in their governance and programming while addressing next-generation governance and service models.

Ars Lyrica has also been selected as the sole performing arts representative in the Houston Arts Alliance’s The Arts Give. Give Back social media campaign that highlights integral artistic contributors to the culture of the city. The contributions of 10 local, diverse artists and organizations working in visual, theater, dance, music and community disciplines. Initiated by the Houston Arts Alliance and launching in November 2020, the campaign will provide just a sampling of Houston's rich cultural landscape and encourage arts lovers to support their local artists and non-profits during this time of social distancing.

Ars Lyrica’s mission statement centers on the core tenet of serving the Houston community by presenting programming that engages a diverse community through the expressive power and contemporary relevance of Baroque music. The organization considers this statement both a defining principle and a call to action. Their vast array of collaborations and partnerships showcase their efforts to provide meaningful points of engagement for a diverse audience as well as a commitment to supporting a local community of artist, in line with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs which seeks to develop policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment.

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston presents a diverse array of music in its original context while creating connections to contemporary life. Intelligent programming features neglected gems alongside familiar masterworks, and extracts the dramatic potential, emotional resonance, and expressive power of music. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, “sets the agenda” for early music in Houston. Ars Lyrica appears regularly at international festivals and conferences because of its distinctive focus, and its pioneering efforts in the field of authentic performance have won international acclaim.