Who We Are
Creating an environment where all of today's youth have the opportunity to thrive and contribute to tomorrow's world.
To provide equitable access to arts education so that the next generation has creative tools to uncover their potential and imagine their futures.
Where art may call to us,
FAME Center seeks to answer.
How does artistic expression impact you? Does it make you sway your hips to a pleasant beat? Does it tickle your fingers to create when you have an idea in mind? Does it attune your attention to a single word, phrase, or line with little regard for the passing of time? We are swayed, tickled and attuned because creative expression is part of our souls. Even as early as months old, we can witness the effect of self expression in creative form. And where art may call to us, FAME Center seeks to answer.
A handful of students quickly multiplied…
FAME Center was established in 2018 when a talented young woman hit her limit in teaching music lessons as a side hustle. Sheila Fortson taught for years as she pursued her Master’s in Interdisciplinary Art at Columbia College Chicago. What had begun with a handful of students quickly multiplied and exposed her calling to facilitating creative growth and skill. Sheila began to hire other talented musicians to help teach what was then only violin and piano.
It never stopped evolving.
She had no choice but to expand or fold; so Sheila took the leap. She established a nonprofit that would make space for people to experience a variety of artistic and creative disciplines. Sheila earned a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance, but it was her Master’s program that directed her future endeavors. The interdisciplinary encounters she had there inspired the establishment of FAME Center.
FAME is an acronym for:
Fortson Arts and Music Education.
FAME Center bases its efforts on six creative disciplines expressed in our logo:
We all prefer to express ourselves differently, and we want to make space for that.
If you stopped into FAME Center today, you would see music lessons in one room, a drawing class in another, a mother sipping from her complimentary hot tea, her little one coloring from our stash of projects, and our theater teacher setting the stage for her students (quite literally!).
Unlike most art studios, we have designed FAME Center to accommodate the unique needs of your family. We know that each of your children may not want to take drawing lessons. Perhaps drums would be a suitable alternative. Because we understand that self-expression is unique, FAME Center aims to make space for each of your family members to try their own thing. And you won't have to shuttle your children all over the city to do it!
Art is a powerful tool for healing!
As one of the few multidisciplinary arts centers around, we focus on creative expression. That focus gives us a unique position to serve those who are hurting. Art therapy is one of Sheila's passions; she believes that art is a powerful tool for healing and growth. In fact, as a 501(c)3 registered organization, FAME Center is dedicated to serving communities with limited resources and access. Year over year, we donate tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to families who are passionate about the creative experience. Around Chicago, that also may include programming in neighborhoods like Armour Square and Austin. FAME Center focuses on using creativity as a superpower. We make certain that young people in these areas get a good look at their own strengths and creativity and have the space to cultivate it!
Come visit us!
If you haven’t visited the FAME Center yet, there are so many ways to get plugged in. Attend one of our free-to-the-public nights out events. Try out a free class at our next Open House. Take a trial lesson to see whether the saxophone really is the right instrument for you. Join us for spring break or summer camp.
Parents, don’t be shy! FAME Center isn’t a place just for your children. Remember, creative expression is an interwoven part of our souls–that means this is a space for you to learn too! Moms, dads, and grandparents have all taken advantage of our phenomenal teaching artists. Let your soul relax a bit; the work is healing.
Ready to plug in?