LIKE MOST MOMS, I keep photos of my children at my desk. One favorite is my now teen daughter at the Youth in Arts Italian Street Painting Festival. At the time, she was still a little girl, and I had no idea I would one day lead the organization that produced the festival. When I arrived at Youth in Arts in 2006, I was amazed by the rich and varied programming offered by this small nonprofit. Youth in Arts was founded in 1970 to fill gaps left by cuts to school art programs, and that is exactly what we've done for more than 40 years.
Each day, we send artists into schools to provide instruction in music, dance, theater and visual art that would otherwise be missing. We provide teachers with arts training not offered in credentialing programs. We present performances in international art forms that many children have never imagined, much less experienced. And we specialize in reaching children of all abilities through the arts, as the only consistent arts education provider for Marin Special Day classrooms.
We have also been, for 17 years, the sole producers of the Youth in Arts Italian Street Painting Festival, founded in 1994 by the amazing team of Sue and Joe Carlomagno. It has been my pleasure and privilege to help lead the festival, which I loved and enjoyed for so long. I am grateful to the staff and volunteers, sponsors and artists who have brought this event to San Rafael. It takes an enormous amount of heart and hard work to put on the festival.
It also takes quite a bit of money — $250,000. Operating a small nonprofit comes with challenges as well as joys, and since the economic crisis of 2008, we have faced some hard decisions. One of the hardest was determining that, after a long process of seeking new sponsorship support, we do not have the resources to continue producing the festival.
The festival provides our community with a beautiful and magical two days each year, but our responsibility at Youth in Arts is to make sure we are here every day, all year, to provide programs students need and deserve. Much as we love the event, we cannot operate beyond our means.
The Carlomagnos are making a final bid to the community to revive the festival in San Rafael. I want to make clear that while Youth in Arts cannot produce this event, we support efforts to bring street art to the community.
We would be glad to share our expertise in teaching children's street painting, providing youth performances or otherwise providing creative activities for youth. We continue to invite our community to celebrate arts learning with us.
We will be at the Marin County Fair again this year, providing hands-on children's activities. And we have a free gallery exhibit open all summer, allowing children of all abilities explore art through touch, sight, sound and smell.
I want to thank everyone who helps keep the arts in our schools and in our children's lives.Festival founders Sue & Joe Carlomagno launched an effort to revive the Festival, which they plan to bring back to San Rafael June 29-30, 2013. For information, please contact Sue Carlomagno at 415.884.2423 or firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for their website.