Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Perrysburg youths drawn to arts

Dan Michelsen is an artist, but he's no still life.

A senior at Perrysburg High School, Dan is a guitarist in a popular local band. He's active in his church, and is president of the Perrysburg Area Arts Council's youth arts board.

A four-year member of the youth arts board, Dan is one of several Perrysburg high school students drawing valuable experience from their involvement with the council.

“It's a great opportunity,” Dan said.

When the youth arts board formed about five years ago, it was an informal, loose-knit organization involved in a few PAAC-related activities. Since then, the board has evolved into a bustling bunch of students who lend their time and artistic talents to a variety of endeavors, such as concerts, festivals, and workshops.

“They are some of the best volunteers the arts council has,” said Marti Zallocco who has been artistic director for the council since September.

Membership in the youth arts board has increased over the years. In fact, so many students attend meetings that they can't all squeeze into the Perrysburg Area Arts Council's new digs at 117 West Second St. in downtown Perrysburg.

The council's new home has a sofa and some chairs, but about 40 students belong to the youth arts board with 20 to 25 actively participating on a regular basis, Ms. Zallocco said.

For now, the youth are continuing to meet in the gymnasium at Zoar Lutheran Church's.

On a recent afternoon, youth arts board members spent three hours helping youngsters make craft items during a Santa's workshop. Sometimes they march in local parades or hand out brochures about the PAAC and its events. They present benefit concerts too.

Dan first became involved with the organization four years ago. He asked organizers of the Harrison Rally Days if his band could perform during the event, but he was told that rally days was “based around adults,” he recalled. “I thought that was kind of stupid. Half of the people there are kids.”

Not interested in taking no for an answer, he persisted and eventually was given permission for his band to play at a spot along the river. “We have played every year since,” he said.

On Dec. 22, the youth arts board will sponsor a benefit concert at Zoar Lutheran Church with proceeds donated to a fund to help victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Matt Alvanos, vice president of the youth arts board, plays in the Horizons Tide band with Dan, and they will be among the entertainers featured at the concert.

Dan and Matt have been playing in the same band since seventh grade. “We've been garage playing for quite a number of years,” Dan said.

Youth arts board members have a new opportunity for community service with an accent on art. They can volunteer their time to staff the new Salvaged Arts Store, located in the council's new home. The arts store, which features recycled items ranging from yarn to buttons to bolts of material, opened for regular business last Saturday. It will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, Ms. Zallocco said. Scouts, art teachers, and others can shop at the arts store and purchase inexpensive craft items.

The arts store is a partnership of the Perrysburg Office of Litter Prevention and Recycling and the Perrysburg Area Arts Council. The PAAC is paying rent for the building. Proceeds from the reuse resource center will go to the PAAC to help pay expenses.

Students interested in helping out at the arts store and participating in other art activities are encouraged to join the youth arts board.

“It definitely is a good experience,” Dan said, noting that his leadership skills have improved because of his involvement with the arts board. And, he said, “it really improves a lot of character.”

Students have the chance to grow and learn as they work with people, he said. “It's like what we will be doing in the real world. It is a good experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in arts.”

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