On April 29, 2009 the YEA Arts Program filled the Ringling Exhibition Hall with art and exhibits, showcasing what YEA Arts is about and how it positively impacts under served kids in our community. The event, co-sponsored by Ringling College and Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, invited Sarasotans to come out and see how the YEA Arts Program is assisting organizations dedicated to helping kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity to fully experience the arts. As Heather Dunhill of the Sarasota Herald Tribune so eloquently pointed out, this program “targets kids with limited opportunities but endless curiosity”. Through cooperation of Collaborative Partners, Program Partners, and Ringling Student Instructors art is used as a medium to excite, energize, impact our

Entering through the doorway, under the quote “I learned that I can do challenging things and succeed”, the hall opened up from floor to ceiling with art projects showing the utilization of art to teach history, science, electronic media techniques, computer graphics design, literary art and reading enhancement. The hall was filled with limitless possibilities of learning with and through art. Scattered among the exhibits were teachers and principals from the Program Partner schools, representatives from the Van Wezel Education and Outreach and Ringling Student Life, and Ringling Students Instructors.

Sarah Bigelow the Photography and Digital Imaging Senior who spearheaded the design, layout and feel of the show took a few minutes to speak of the impact her YEA experience had on not only the kids at Bowman Ranch but also on her. In her own words Sarah said, “I know that YEA’s influence may have opened a new door for self confidence and acceptance.” John Sullivan spoke of the origins of YEA, the putting together foster care kids with performing arts to broaden their horizons to what life could be.

The room was alive with kids from Gocio Elementary sharing their experiences of writing and illustrating a graphic novel and the animal they drew for the Florida History mural and kids from Phoenix Academy talking about building a camera that actually works and using the computer to design their own skateboard deck.

While attendees perused the exhibits, and talked to kids, teachers and Ringling Student instructors, two Ringling students, Trey and Jane, demonstrated impromptu art by creating paintings on the spot. These pieces were then auctioned off and raised enough money to fund a Ringling Student Instructor for one semester at a Program Partner location. Robert and Linda Salisbury won Jane’s painting and Michael Shelton won Trey’s.

The evening was definitely a success in raising the awareness of the YEA Arts program in the Sarasota community. Jules Rose summed it up with his comment, “I had no idea that the YEA Arts Program does so much.”

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