Youth Artist Organizers
Freedom Arts and Education Center, Saint Louis, Mo.
- Emerging Leader: Andrew Gibson
- Grant Program: Emerging Leader
- Amount of Grant: $15,000
- Dates of Grant Term: July 2020 – July 2022
Andrew Gibson co-founded the Freedom Arts and Education Center in Saint Louis, Mo., in 2012, and currently serves as the Center’s executive director. In this role, he oversees the planning, implementation, and evaluation of all programs, manages all finances and contracts, and provides leadership at all levels to maintain the integrity of the organization. Andrew facilitates many youth workshops, mentors and tutors several scholars, and devotes his time to building relationships with fellow artists and likeminded organizations. He is tirelessly devoted to ensuring equity for systemically underserved youth, creating support systems for devoted artists and educators, and advocating for justice and equity in the Saint Louis region. Andrew has been a performing and teaching artist since he was a teenager and began his professional career in 2003 by performing and recording with a variety of musical artists, teaching private lessons, and learning the basics of music production. He has worked in multiple churches as a worship leader and audio technician, and currently serves with the Christian advocacy group, Faith For Justice, through which he has co-organized national conferences and receives ongoing anti-racism and de-escalation training. Andrew earned a bachelor’s degree in music with a double minor in philosophy and audio production from Webster University. He has organized several unique shows and concerts, recorded on nationally-acclaimed albums, and shared stages with Grammy winning artists.
The Freedom Arts and Education Center’s “Youth Artist Organizers” (YAO) initiative financially compensates enrolled scholars between 5th and 10th grade as they actively work with the teaching artists and local organizations to intentionally grow in their creativity, professionalism, and social consciousness. YAOs have engaged with community events and guided activities to learn a wide range of needed skills such as public speaking, event planning, design thinking, lesson planning, contract development, musicianship, adaptability, and neighborhood canvassing. YAOs have completed mock and real artistic and community projects, explored local institutions, which helped to expand their network of mentors, developed their own creative voice, and gained the skills and confidence needed to succeed in their school years and beyond, all while being compensated for their valuable time and efforts right now. The Freedom Arts and Education Center seeks to support the scholars as they intentionally develop their artistic voice and mission, relevant professional skills, and the awareness and engagement needed to transform their lives and the lives of others in their communities.