Arts July 28, 2008

Kids at Play

The First Children's Arts Festival

Come play with us! ¡Vengan a jugar con nosotros!” This is the fun and engaging theme of the Wood River Arts Alliance’s (WRAA) first-ever Children’s Arts Festival, which will be held January 25-26, 2008, at the Community Campus in Hailey.

Participants in the Children’s Arts Festival will have the opportunity to indulge their creativity by exploring a wide variety of artistic mediums, from painting and pottery to theater and dance. Hilarie Neely, vice-president of the WRAA, explains that most of the classrooms at the campus will be used for the festival so there can be many workshops to highlight numerous forms of art. Neely, who is also director of the Footlight Dance Centre, says there are “plans to have the Junior/Senior Company dancers perform repertory pieces from their educational school tour.

They will offer classes in creative movement and traditional folk dances from around the world.” Kim Gasenica, director of education for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s School of Music, hopes to have her students perform at the festival. She also intends to set up what she refers to as an “instrument petting zoo,” in which kids can play with various musical instruments. This has been a popular attraction at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Family Festival.

The aim of the Children’s Arts Festival is for children to have fun while learning about art and exploring their own artistic tendencies. Through a mix of performances and hands-on activities, children will learn that they, too, can enjoy participating in art both as creators and patrons. “This festival will help kids realize that music and art are cool!” says Gasenica. It is the hope of the WRAA that this festival will instill a lifelong appreciation for the arts in the attendees. Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he [or she] grows up.”

The Children’s Arts Festival is loosely based on the Arts for Kids festival in Boise, which is held throughout the summer months and is coming up on its 19th year. Members of the WRAA have traveled to Boise to attend this event seeking inspiration for the Wood River Valley’s own festival, as well as to learn what works and what does not. Holding the Children’s Arts Festival in winter will give it its own unique flavor. R.L. Rowsey, core company artist at the Company of Fools, notes, “Timing is everything, and I can’t imagine a better way for families to spend time together in the middle of the winter than to explore the arts and the arts organizations that make up the Wood River Arts Alliance.”  >>>



The idea for the Children’s Arts Festival began five years ago. A leadership grant awarded by the Idaho Commission on the Arts made it possible for the WRAA to hire Keith Moore as a part-time executive director. Having an executive director to help coordinate the ideas from the 23 members of the WRAA has allowed the idea of a festival to come to fruition. This is no hastily-put-together event. The WRAA has been tirelessly working for more than a year to make sure the Children’s Arts Festival is successful. The community has also been enthusiastic about it.

Many organizations have lent their support and become sponsors. “The Wood River Arts Alliance partners with the Blaine County School District throughout the year and this event will be no exception,” says Neely. Rowsey adds that theFestival “is a perfect public display of partnerships that go on all the time behind the scenes in our cultural and arts community.”

The Children’s Arts Festival is a way to celebrate the opportunities that are available in the arts right here in our community, stresses Neely. Rowsey concurs: “There are classes, workshops, and performances to fit most every family’s schedule.” He further notes, “I think the festival will also offer a great opportunity for our local artists and arts organizations to listen to the children, to their families.” The Wood River Valley, world-renowned for its natural beauty and outdoor recreation, has also become a haven for artists, and the festival will give people a chance to fully appreciate this lively part of our local culture.

All children, ages five to 12, are encouraged to participate in the free workshops on Saturday, January 26. The doors will open at 9 a.m. for children to sign up for the activities that interest them. The classes and demonstrations will begin at 10 a.m., but youngsters are encouraged to come throughout the day. There is no need to pre-register as it is strictly a drop-in and have-fun event. As an added bonus, participants will also have the opportunity to win prizes. Although the festival on Saturday focuses on a younger crowd, teenagers are not left out of the fun. They get to express their own creativity at the Community Campus on Friday night.

The Jurovich sisters—Izabella, seven, and Lidija, eight—love art and are eagerly anticipating the upcoming festival. Izabella, who wants to be a rock-and-roll star when she grows up, is looking forward to watching the dance performances. A dancer herself, Izabella takes ballet and hip-hop lessons. Lidija is a dancer, like her sister, but she also likes to draw. “Mainly people,” she says, “people I invent.” Although she loves to ski, Lidija makes it clear that she would gladly skip a day on the slopes for a day of art. “I will definitely go,” she says. Their mother, Pam Jurovich, is also excited about the Children’s Art Festival. She is always looking for new cultural and artistic events to attend with her daughters. “Art is a great way for kids to express themselves,” she says.

The WRAA hopes that enthusiastic participants make this first-ever festival a resounding success that will lead to its becoming an annual event.

This article appears in the Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.