Alisal Center for the Fine Arts earns first-ever Ingenuity Award for its “big idea.”
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Major challenges to overcome? Check – gang violence and poverty certainly qualify in that category. An exciting and innovative approach to addressing these challenges? Yep, that’s a check. Last year alone the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts averaged more than 240 young artists in its free workshops at any given time, and its students participated in 91 separate community events, ranging from creating sets and backdrops for theater productions, to art exhibits, to conducting arts workshops, to performing for civic events and school assemblies. As ACFA board member George Niesen says, “Those young artists don’t have time for trouble!”
This year, the Weekly Community Fund asked local nonprofits for a profile and their “big idea” for positive change. The concepts were many and very meaningful: new educational native gardens, e-waste clean-ups conducted by underemployed populations, new ways to fight old mortal enemies like cancer and hunger. A panel of judges boiled the list down to 20 standouts, then 10, then two and, finally, one.
The fact that ACFA has demonstrated success in the most demanding context, helping kids and a community that desperately need it, and haven’t stopped innovating there, hatching a well-conceived plan to assemble a multimedia workshop and vocal music and mariachi programs, is why we’re proud to announce the nonprofit is the winner of this year’s $2,500 Ingenuity Award.
Research shows students involved in arts do better in school, so ACFA’s student art programs’ benefits are multifold. “Students associate with creative people who build rather than destroy,” Niesen says. “Performing for community events builds personal self-confidence and engenders pride in the community – for participants and audience members alike.”
Don’t just take our word for it, or Niesen’s word. Here’s what a budding artist and ACFA alum has to say about the group. “ACFA has helped me academically, personally and in my career,” says Karina Salcedo, who now works as a teacher and continues to dance with ACFA’s folkloric group, Tonatiuh: Danzantes del Quinto Sol. “More invaluable, ACFA gave me the opportunity to explore my culture through music and dance. Growing up involved in these activities has not only opened up various job opportunities, it has prepared me to be a leader for my community with a desire to further expand knowledge of Mexican culture. Playing guitar and dancing folklorico are not only fun pastimes; they are now tools through which I can enrich the streets where I grew up.”