The YAC: YMCA Endowment Ensures Expanded Offerings into Arts & Humanities

By: Miriam Meglan, YMCA Endowment Committee Member, Chair of the YAC’s Advisory Committee; and Anthony Brock, Arts & Humanities Director, YMCA of Frederick County

The Y Arts Center (YAC)  is unique in its mission.  An arts center offering music, dance, theater, and fine art programming to adults and children featuring a contemporary fine arts gallery, Gallery 115.  The Arts Center is part of the YMCA’s mission to expand access to wellness options to boost your body and mind while our community lifts your spirit. 

At the Y, we take immense pride in our work to strengthen communities and help all of us be our best selves. We provide a place to play, to learn, to be healthy, and to give back. We provide parent’s child care, seniors a place to connect, and children a safe place to go. We believe that everyone–no matter who they are, or where they are from–deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential. Everything the Y does is in service of making sure people and communities thrive! 

The Y’s three areas of impact are:

  • Youth Development: Empowering young people to reach their full potential. This includes Child Care, Educational programs including arts & humanities programming, summer camp, and much more.
  • Healthy Living: Improving individual and community well-being in body, mind, and spirit. Yes, this includes fitness and group exercise but dance is extremely physically challenging as well.
  • Social Responsibility: Providing support and inspiring action in our communities. This includes community resources and engagement such as special events, gallery exhibits, and volunteer opportunities.

The Frederick County Y has wanted to expand from dance into other areas, such as visual art and music, for several years; however, space constraints at the Downtown Y made it next to impossible to do that, and such an expansion was put on the shelf.  A few years ago, the Ausherman Family Foundation purchased and refurbished the old Board of Education building on Church Street for the purpose of establishing an Arts Center in the building.  The space is perfect for an Arts Center: big, airy, and filled with lots of natural light.  The Ausherman Foundation partnered with the YMCA to develop a high-quality, multi-disciplinary arts education program accessible to all, regardless of income level.

Our vision is to provide an array of high-quality, accessible, and affordable programming in art, music, theatre, literature, and the culinary arts that meet the needs of the residents of Frederick County.  Our interest is not to supplant any existing organization’s efforts, but to address niches they don’t address.  This County is a dynamic, rapidly growing place, and over the next five to ten years, its demographics will change significantly.  With increased diversity will come the need for new, culturally relevant opportunities in arts programming in the County.    

We plan to center most of our Downtown Y arts programming in our Church Street location along with advanced classes for the entire County.   Beginners’ classes will be held at the Natelli Family Y in Urbana and at outreach locations, we identify throughout the county.  Ultimately, we hope to see a robust effort to take arts programming to places like Middletown, Thurmont, Brunswick, etc. 

Currently running in our Gallery 115 is “Bloom,” a juried, open call art exhibit featuring works by 17 artists across the Mid-Atlantic region.  An opening reception was held in July 20201, attended by 70 people, including many unaffiliated with the Y, and on August 8th, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM, we will host a virtual artist talk during which the exhibiting artists will discuss how their emergence from pandemic restrictions informed the works we are showing. The show will run through September 6.  We are grateful to the Frederick County Arts Council for helping us promote these events.

Our summer has been full of weekly camps in dance, visual art, music theatre, and culinary arts for kids.  Those classes are all but fully registered.  Also, a special four-day intensive workshop in violin was offered through the Peabody Conservatory.

Among other things happening this Fall at the YAC:

  • An expanded dance program with entry-level classes held at the South County Y.
  • In September, we will introduce a fun new activity, Paint Night, on Downtown Frederick’s First Saturdays.
  • In October, a second curated art show will open in the gallery.

Other things are being planned; so stay tuned.

The YAC is located at 115 East Church Street, Frederick, Maryland, and can be found on social media here:

Endowments are particularly meaningful as they offer a dependable, perpetual source of funding allowing nonprofits to expand programming and services into new areas including arts & humanities. Imagine making a contribution that leaves a legacy for generations to come. This lasting impact can easily be made through a gift to the YMCA endowment.

The Y welcomes the opportunity to confidentially discuss how a gift to the YMCA endowment can support arts & humanities programming for our youth. For more details, contact Tom Clingman, VP of Social Responsibility at 301-663-5131 or by email at