Encouraging the Arts

Music and art are wonderful ways for young people to express themselves.

Karissa Buck wants to make sure area youth get opportunities in both the performing and visual arts.

The Appleton woman is the co-founder of The A.R.T.S. Inc., a nonprofit organization in the Fox Cities that provides free workshops and concerts for teens and young adults. 

The A.R.T.S. Inc. is partnered with The Train Station, an area organization that hosts concerts for local and touring bands, along with informational presentations.

“When we started this about four years ago, it was just kind of a dream that Sam (Samantha Messersmith, the other co-founder) had,” said Buck. “Sam went to school for art and had a business degree and I’m more of the music side. I’ve worked as a DJ and I’m kind of influenced in the scene as far as different music genres. I also know basically everyone in that (local) music scene. 

“We hosted a few fundraising events and a few years later, we linked up with The Train Station and started hosting workshops.”

The free workshops cover a variety of different art and music subjects such as mindfulness jars, dreamcatchers, stained glass projects, guitar and piano lessons, and jazz. They are guided by volunteers, and are often family events with parents joining their children in the workshops. The organization’s biggest event of the year was a well-attended fundraising concert and workshop held in mid-August at Telulah Park.

“When we first started out, it was primarily my friends who had kids,” Buck said. “We had some in the summer where we started with a few kids and ended up with more than 30. They’re for people of all ages. The parents will typically do the projects with the kids, or they can assist them. They seem to really enjoy doing something with their child.

“It’s always a very positive experience and we’ve had a lot of repeats at our workshops. People are just happy we’re doing it. Everyone is welcome. At the beginning of our workshops, a lot of the kids are shut down. They’re not talking to anyone. At the end of it, they’re just talking away, telling others about what their creations are. It’s fun to see.”

In addition to running her nonprofit, Buck works as a funding coordinator for the Fox Valley Humane Association. She graduated from Kimberly High School in 2010, and from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a degree in communications.

The A.R.T.S. Inc. has currently put its workshops on hold due to the ongoing global pandemic, but will return in the spring and summer months when parks and other outdoor venues become available.  

Donations to The A.R.T.S Inc. can be made through the organization’s Facebook page, facebook.com/theARTSinc. Contact them by email at info.the.arts.inc@gmail.com, or call Buck at 920-450-1771. The A.R.T.S. Inc. can also be reached on LinkedIn and Twitter.