Youth in Arts welcomed our wonderful new Program Director, Kelsey Rieger earlier this month. Kelsey has served as a community gallery manager, museum educator, and volunteer teacher. Most recently she was the Curator of Education at the Palmer Museum at Penn State University, where she received her Masters in Arts Education.
Thanks to her parents, Kelsey, a Southern California native, grew up with excellent access to the arts. “I was fortunate enough to have been gifted access to cultural institutions and the arts from a very young age, granting me entry into the perspectives, values, and aesthetics of people I had never met and places I had never been.” She explains, “I took art lessons every week, learned to play musical instruments, and spent weekends attending theatrical performances because my parents felt that this exposure would help me grow into a compassionate and capable adult. The arts were ingrained in every aspect of my life, and from these experiences I learned the value and humanity of creativity.” Recognizing that although her arts education was plentiful, many others’ is scarce, eventually led Kelsey to pursue a career in the field, “With time and perspective, I have grown to realize that my upbringing was a wonderfully privileged one and that many people suffer from inequitable access to arts resources across the country and throughout the world. It was this increased awareness and a deep-seated desire to provide every child with the same opportunities to grow with the arts that I had, which ultimately led me to my profession as an arts educator.”
Her drive to bring all arts to all students, makes her a fantastic fit for the role of Program Director. “I have always believed that at its core, art is a malleable and necessary discipline that helps us investigate, interpret, and engage with the world around us. Having worked closely with students in the process of creative expression and interpretation, I’ve witnessed the subtle power of the arts in promoting open mindedness and inspiring innovation as well as confidence in our youth and within society.” Acknowledging that arts education is too often undervalued, Kelsey passionately asserts that we need to do more, “Arts Education Administrators, community members, artists, and educators must work collaboratively across the institutional board to provide supplemental programming that is both accessible and relevant to students and people of all backgrounds. It is this need that initially interested me in the important work that Youth in Arts is doing, and I look forward to the opportunity to help propel their programs forward for the benefit of the community and the voices of our future generations.”
Though she doesn’t call herself an artist, Kelsey creates, and has long felt connected to the arts, “I have deep respect and admiration for the work that artists do. Having worked closely with many gifted artists devoted to creating and sharing their work with the world, I have never quite considered myself to be an artist. However, I was formally trained in the fine arts and have always found comfort in drawing and mixed-media sculpture. I enjoy the journey of making art and rely on it as a means of keeping my life balanced and healthy.”
We are thrilled to have Kelsey join our team. Her enthusiasm for her work is palpable, “I hope to find effective ways to apply my experience in public programming, community engagement, curriculum development, and evaluative research in order to keep growing YIA’s reach within the community!”
Thank you, Kelsey!
Laurel Dell’s 5th grade students have been invited to participate in the 2040 San Rafael General Plan planning process. The General Plan expresses the community’s vision of how and where our city will grow and change in the future. It’s an official document and covers topics such as housing, transportation, open space, arts and culture, natural resources, community design, public services, and safety. The intent of the General Plan is to envision how growth will be managed to protect the quality of life and make San Rafael more accessible, equitable, and vibrant for residents, businesses, and visitors.
The Plan is an opportunity for residents and leaders to think about and speak out about what we wish to preserve and what we wish to change. We will be adding youth voices to this process. The Plan will address issues that impact us all—including traffic, jobs, housing affordability, environmental quality, resilience, disaster preparedness, sea level rise, and public services. Once the General Plan is adopted, City Council, local commissions, and city staff use it to make day-to-day decisions about our future.
For the “Real World Challenge” portion of their architectural residency, students will work collaboratively in hands-on in-class studios with architects and planners from Youth in Arts and UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN. We will build upon the work we did last year for the Resilient by Design Challenge. We will research and make proposals about San Rafael’s future—from a youthful, but informed perspective, with a special focus on selected areas of the city (downtown, canals, open space, etc.) We will incorporate the academic focus on earth systems and apply this research to our recommendations. The students will have an opportunity to present to the General Plan committee members.
Youth in Arts hosted our second annual Bocce Tournament Fundraiser on a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon in San Rafael. Nearly 50 players enjoyed four lively rounds of Bocce at the Marin Bocce Federation on September 15th. Many donors came out to support the event, and one of the eight teams was comprised of teenagers from our ‘Til Dawn A Cappella group. Though our ‘Til Dawn team they didn’t take home the big prize, they played with such wonderful enthusiasm! Competition was stiff, but after an exciting final round between, Take the Cannoli and deBOCCEry…deBOCCEry came away with the win! The winning team was rewarded with beautiful certificates and bottles of wine from YIA Board Member, Maura Tokarski. Our fantastic volunteers, Aliya & Jeffrey helped us to sell lots of raffle tickets at the event and announced the winners of the wonderful prizes from Benissimo Restaurant & Bar, Pizzalina, and Marin Bocce Federation. ‘Til Dawn performed a set of four beautiful songs, to cap off a great day. We enjoyed delicious food and beverages from our generous donors – beer from Iron Springs Public House, wine from BJ Acker-Hitta, a slider bar from Farmburger Marin, and dessert from True Marin Treats. A big thank you to all of our individual and corporate donors, volunteers, and staff for helping make this fundraiser a success!
Afro-Peruvian music and dance is a unique blend of African, Spanish, and Indigenous elements. During this special assembly organized by mentor artist Carmen Román at Sonoma Mountain Elementary School, master performers Pierre Padilla Vasquez, Pedro Rosales, Amelia Uzategui Bonilla, David Pinto, and Juan Medrano Cotito shared their expertise in Afro-Peruvian song and dance with students of all ages. Continuing with workshops throughout the day, students got hands-on experience learning about traditional Afro-Peruvian history and culture with dances such as the Festejo, Zamacueca, and Son De Los Diablos. Through movement and music led by the artists, students were exposed to the rich traditions of another culture.
The second Sunday in September has been designated by Congress since 2010 as the beginning of National Arts in Education Week. During this time, the field of arts education joins together in communities across the country to tell the story of the impact of the transformative power of the arts in education.
This year, Youth in Arts worked with colleagues to plan a dynamic and multifaceted celebration of National Arts in Education Week spanning the county and offering activities for students, teachers, parents and the general public. Educators and invested community members were invited to celebrate the launch of National Arts Education Week by attending the Kickoff Breakfast for Arts Now Marin with Youth In Arts, Marin County Office of Education, California Alliance for the Arts, Marin Community Foundation, Marin Center, and the rich Arts Community of Marin. Together we celebrated the accomplishments of our young artists and considered new ways to share the arts with more students in our communities. A special thanks goes out to everyone who made this event possible, and to all those who took time away from their important work to come together to consider the future of the arts in Marin County!