Tom and Nancy Sharp’s relationship with Midwest Young Artists Conservatory extends back 23 years, nearly to the very beginning of the school. It was 1995 when they first heard about a concert by the newly formed youth orchestra program featuring distinguished guest soloists. They decided to attend and were immediately impressed.
“That’s really where the light went on, and we said ‘we’ve got to do this, we want our children to have exposure to this.’” Tom recalls. “We thought it would be a nurturing experience for our kids, and it was!”
All three of the Sharp children studied through MYAC programs, with two going on to become professional musicians. Courtney earned degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Peabody Institute, and is now a professional cellist and music instructor. Madeline, a violist, earned her bachelor’s and master’s from Julliard, and is a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Andrew, also a cellist, recently graduated from DePaul University and has started a career in the accounting world and is on his way to obtaining his CPA.
Tom, a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, became actively involved as a parent with MYAC and was invited to join the Board of Directors. He went on to become the school’s longest serving board chairman from 2005 to 2015, and currently serves as treasurer.
For over two decades, Tom and Nancy have been transformational donors to MYAC. Their partnership in both philanthropy and governance has been instrumental in helping MYAC grow into one of the top youth music organizations.
In addition to their belief in MYAC’s programs, Tom says they choose to stay involved with MYAC as a charitable cause because of the educational and social impact it has on its students.
“As the schools cut back on arts funding, our mission is imperative: to have people understand the power of music; what its impact can be on their lives.” He believes the ever-growing research on the academic and social benefits of studying music proves this point. “I see that as part of our mission, to make sure that young people know that music is important.”
“Another reason I love MYAC is the nurturing aspect. When you look at the testimonials from these young people, time and again we see that friendships are as important as the music part is. When you go to our competitions, you see the kids come out and support others. You see them congratulate each other afterwards. I really take pride in the fact that we consider that an important part of what we do.”
What excites Tom and Nancy most about MYAC’s plans for the future? The vision to build a Lake County Arts Center: a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center on the MYAC campus, benefitting a multitude of cultural and educational organizations. Tom states, “The vision of a Lake County Arts Center is very appealing to me. I see a great need for it as it supports MYAC’s mission, as well as bringing in a larger community of artists.