Crafted for kids
Youth Art Month Festival
While there are some opportunities for children to practice the arts during school time, it can be more rare to find events with an artistic focus for the whole family. This is where Arts for All Nevada is filling a gap with its annual Youth Art Month Festival, which takes place this Saturday at the Lake Mansion Arts and Cultural Center.
The festival includes 20 to 25 artists from the area running eight creative arts stations for children to make art that they can take home.
“They each have projects that take about five to 10 minutes to do,” said Jackie Clay, executive director for Arts for All Nevada. “That way, a family can do all eight projects if they want. And, there’s no duplication. Every station has a different medium. For instance, one is painting, one is pastels, another one uses air-dry clay, all kinds of different things.”
There’s also an early start at the Youth Art Month Festival for children with special needs: 9:30 a.m. “During that time, it will be quieter and less crowded, and there will be less stimulus for the kids,” Clay said.
The festival—which officially runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.—takes over the entire area of the Lake Mansion at Court Street and Arlington Avenue with other events, including face painting, story time from the Washoe County Library System and a noontime tour of the Lake Mansion area. There’s also a display from the Arts for All Nevada Artist in Residency Program, which includes children’s artwork from 50 special education classes throughout Washoe County.
The event also features a free book for every child who attends, “to help them start their own library,” Clay said. “We also have the Girl Scouts of Sierra Nevada doing a special project with the kids based on one of their badges,”
These inter-workings with other community groups are a big part of Arts for All Nevada’s overall mission. Clay said that the group was founded to give arts opportunities to children and adults who are at-risk, have a disability or are underserved by the arts. This includes a full schedule of classes for different age groups, including adults, as well as three festivals a year for families, with the other two slated for around Artown and during the holiday season.
The group also places art teachers in special education classrooms around the area, paid for through grants. The teachers are professional artists, and all of them have experience working in a classroom setting for all ages. Clay said they focus on elementary students but also include middle and high school classrooms that would miss out on this opportunity without the group’s volunteer teachers.
“Especially for children in special education, it can be a life-changing moment,” Clay said. “It gives them a different way to communicate and a better sense of self-esteem, and it can set them up for academic success. It also helps with social interaction with their peers.”
The artists who volunteer love to do so in a classroom setting, Clay said.
“We all know that artists have a hard time making a living, so we’re are helping to give more work to these artists that are out there and practicing their craft and doing good work,” she said. “And they clearly love working with the kids. They also get a sense of satisfaction in helping them and seeing them practice art, which is really the heart and soul of what they do.”