Student performers take the stage at the Edmonds Arts Festival
Last updated 6/14/2012 at Noon
The Edmonds Arts Festival (EAF) is well-known for its cornucopia of excellent fine art and artisan crafts, but it also showcases talented local performers who entertain the crowds during the Festival. This year for the first time, the young performers of the Edmonds community are being given the chance to shine on the big stage.
“In the past, most of the performances [on the main stage] have been by a variety of family-friendly adult acts,” said EAF Performing Arts Co-director Julaine Fleetwood. “If youth groups performed, it was in the children’s area: a small, out-of-the way area without a formal stage or amplification. This year the youth groups will perform on the main stage amphitheater and be supported and amplified by our professional, live sound production technicians.”
Due in part to the major cuts the Edmonds School District has had to endure in their arts programs, the EAF board wanted to increase their support of the community’s youth not only in the visual arts, but also in the performing arts.
“We are doing this,” Fleetwood explained, “by providing a venue to give our kids the opportunity to get more performance experience, showcase their talent to the community, let them experience what it might be like to compete for the chance to perform, allow them to perform in a public amphitheater like the professionals, and experience the support they would get from a professional sound production company.”
Interested student performing groups applied for available slots by submitting an application and a demo of their music. A music jury consisting of community volunteers selected groups by the quality of their performance and each group’s style of music to create a line-up offering a variety of musical genres. The performers include school-sponsored groups, dance students and independent groups. “We will showcase student musical and dance groups on Friday from morning until mid-afternoon, Saturday morning, and all day on Sunday in celebration of Father’s Day,” said Fleetwood.
Another reason to honor local student performers with this opportunity is to celebrate the Edmonds School District’s recent recognition as a “Best Community for Music Education” in the United States. This is the fourth year in a row that Edmonds has been selected for this honor by the NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing active participation in music making across the lifespan. The Edmonds School District is the only one in the state of Washington to receive the award this year.
“We know that communities are struggling to maintain funding for many education programs and we applaud these communities that remain committed to a complete and quality education that must include music and the arts,” said NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen.
Fleetwood agrees. “What a testament to our local educators that even during these challenging economic times, they continue to excel in inspiring students to understand, experience and excel in music education at all levels,” she exclaimed. “In support of the mission of the Edmonds Arts Festival, we saw our performing arts venue as a perfect opportunity to further support the District and, most importantly, our artists of tomorrow.”
With that kind of support, it’s no surprise that Edmonds schools are turning out talented young performers.
“I am very excited to hear the level of talent in the performances that comes from our school district,” Fleetwood said. “Some of the school groups have won Regional, State and even National awards of excellence for their performances. There will be a wide variety of music styles, with performers from grades 1-12, so there will be something that everyone will enjoy.”
Fleetwood is excited about this new way to involve local youth in the EAF and she sees her long hours of volunteering for the past 14 years as well worth the effort. “The reason I have been involved for so long,” she said, “is that I truly align with the Festival’s mission of providing arts education to our community youth and because there are so many opportunities within the organization to both work for what I believe in, and to have fun. This organization does great work for our community.”
To see the Festival music schedule, please visit the Festival website at www.edmondsartsfestival.com