February 2020 Staff Spotlight: Brandi Couse

The Alliance is a vibrant arts center driven by the desire to connect art, culture and community. Making that vision a reality starts with our people. Get to better know our Assistant Director, Brandi.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Being able to use the arts to transform lives and improve our community. Part of my family’s lore is how the arts provided my mother a pathway out of poverty. The arts provided me a pathway out of pain, and I am confident that the arts will be part of my children’s pathway to success. While a music teacher, I saw how the arts provided a positive pathway for so many young people. The Alliance is an amazing place where the arts are continually used to create pathways for greatness for our citizens and our community and I am just so proud to be a part of that.

What’s one of the most interesting aspects of working at the Alliance?
Getting to know and interact with the people who come through our doors. We have visitors from across the street to across the globe and working at the Alliance has afforded me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people with whom I otherwise would never have crossed paths. It is exciting and I can’t imagine a better place in which to connect with my “neighbors.”

Why are the arts important to you?
The arts are important to me because of the power within them to make our lives and communities better. Becoming a musician changed the way my mind worked in ways that helped me succeed. Throughout my life I have turned to the arts to overcome struggles, to process powerful and painful experiences, and to find the determination to persevere. The arts are one of the many keys we can use and give to others to help them make their lives and communities healthier and happier.

Which author, playwright or artist has influenced you the most and why?
My first music teacher. My family moved to the Midwest from the South as I started 5th grade. The transition was tough. When a new teacher announced that she was starting a band, I was highly interested. I loved music and thought it might be great way to become a part of a community. On signing day, the teacher explained that she would only take so many students for each instrument and only five would be allowed to play the saxophone, which had caught my fancy. When we students scrambled to get in lines for the various instruments, I found myself 6th in the line for the saxophone behind five boys. As the band director approached our line, the boy at the front of the line turned to me and said, “you should get in the line for flute or clarinet because those are girl instruments.” The band director walked straight to me, told the line to turn around, and said, “I guess YOU are at the front of the line.” She accepted all six of us. At the end of our second year, I was the only one who was still playing the saxophone. At our final concert she told me she made that “turn around” move because she thought she saw in me the determination needed to stay with it. I went on to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a master’s degree in Saxophone Performance. That first teacher’s support was instrumental (haha, pun intended) in my learning that determination does pay amazing dividends.

What would the title of your memoir be?
While I am both a visual and performing artist, the question of “title of my memoir” automatically switches in my mind to “soundtrack” for my life. My soundtrack would by Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” album. The lyrics, “You belong among the wildflowers…you belong somewhere you feel free,” speak to me. Working at the Alliance and meeting everyone who comes through our doors feels like being among the wildflowers and working with the arts makes me feel free.

What inspires you?
I must confess the question of, “what inspires me most,” is an incredibly difficult one. What has inspired me has changed throughout my life and may change from moment to moment, day to day. As I think through my possible answers, the common thread I find is, people. When we come together, we can do amazing, great things. The arts are one way we can come together, come to understand and appreciate one another, and make this world a better place for all.

What would you say to encourage others to get connected with the Alliance?
It is a place where you can be a part of a community: a family that is great because of you and greater with you.

Alliance Favorites-Fill in the Blanks!

“I can’t leave the Green Market without buying:
• Gina’s tamales and Caroline’s cheese.

“The play’s the thing” and my favorite Alliance play production is:• The Whale- My first Alliance play. It was awesome to see Bill Taylor on stage!

“If you want to buy me a gift, choose work from this local Alliance member artist:
• Jayne Baker

“Florida heat means nothing when this outdoor festival/concert comes around at the Alliance!
• Rocky Horror.

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