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Teach Them Well 

BCAC offers free art workshops for kids

They may not be able to paint the town red, but some kids will be painting other things this summer with Arts for Kids. The program conducted by the Boise City Arts Commission will begin June 10 and run for 10 consecutive weeks--providing an outlet for kids to express their creativity.

Arts for Kids began 16 years ago and has been growing steadily ever since. This year, organizers have expanded their schedule to run through August, as well as allow the kids to participate in the City Arts Celebration and provide a walk-up activity as part of First Thursday.

Tamara Cameron, performing arts manager for the Boise Arts Commission, said the teen apprentice program will also be continuing--giving 15 teenagers the chance to work with professionals.

"In 2005, we added a Teen Apprentice Program which gave area high-school students with a strong interest in the arts an opportunity to participate as Artist Apprentices. Fifteen students applied and seven were selected to participate. They were paid a stipend, assigned to assist a particular artist and encouraged to learn about professions in the arts," she said. "Two of the apprentices enjoyed the experience so much that they returned on another Saturday to assist as volunteers."

Teens aren't the only people who have made a habit of volunteering for Arts for Kids. Liz Buckingham, publisher of Treasure Valley Family magazine, said she first discovered Arts for Kids in 1993 after she and her husband moved to Boise. "On a Saturday in June, we were riding our bikes on the Boise Greenbelt, when we came upon a children's event in Julia Davis Park. It was an incredible event with music, balloons, kids of all ages making creative art pieces, art teachers milling around in aprons instructing and leading picnic tables of children eager to transform the supplies in front of them, into a work of art. It was Boise's Arts For Kids."

The program has since moved to the Grove Plaza, but Buckingham continued to volunteer and later served as a multi-year director of the event. "The event is unlike anything else I've ever seen in other cities where I've lived before. The children's enthusiasm and the instructors' talent and leadership offers an amazing experience for kids, who return home with pieces of arts that they've made," Buckingham said. "The event demonstrates the best of Boise, and brings out the budding artist in every child."

Arts for Kids has come a long way since 1993--then it was a one-day event with required pre-registration for the 1,500 to 2,000 participants. Now, Cameron said, "It is our intention that over 5,000 community members will participate in Arts for Kids during the summer of 2006."

Last year, Cameron said, "artists and arts educators were selected by a committee based upon their teaching experience, talent and proposed project for kids. Because of these changes, the current program provides increased access, a higher quality hands-on art experience, a relaxed, creative, family friendly atmosphere and the opportunity to participate over several Saturdays."

Workshops vary from painting to dancing to writing and are categorized in age groups.

According to Cameron, it is a worthwhile event for the kids who participate. "Kids have a great time doing these workshops. We have kids who come back every week to do a different project. It's rewarding to see the smiles on their faces. I usually work the sign-up board and every Saturday at least one child will say, 'Look what I made!' and show me their artwork."

Children get to keep their artwork and participate in the free workshops due to the efforts of the BCAC. "All the artists are paid and the Boise City Arts Commission provides all necessary supplies for 'make-and-take' artwork,' Cameron said.

Arts for Kids 2006 workshops include Tie-Dye T-shirts, Fun with Rhythm Sticks, Block Print T-shirts, Icy Cool Painting, On the Spot Watercolor, Kids in Motion, Beneath the Briny Sea, Marbleizing Magic, Fun Foam Printing, Tinny Texture Medallions, Sand Painting, Painting with Clay, Styrofoam Printmaking, Storyteller's Theater, Phrase Frames, African Animals on Wood, What Color is your Face?, Jazzy Journals, Poetry 101, Hexy Flexy Paper, Edible Colorwheels, Dancing from Far Away Places and Leaf Prints.

Registration is on a walk-up basis in the Grove Plaza (behind the Brick Oven Bistro) and workshops begin at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. and run for about 45 minutes each. "We also offer at least one walk-up activity for people who don't have time to wait for one of the workshops. All kids have to do is show up and sign up. It's fun, it's free and the art projects are great," Cameron said.

For more about Arts for Kids, visit www.cityofboise.org/arts_commission/Events/.

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