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35th Anniversary of the Music Center’s Annual Very Special Arts Festival Celebrates Creative Achievements of Students with Disabilities

– More Than 1,000 Students Are Stars for a Day in Performances on The Music Center Plaza –

The Very Special Arts Festival is an annual admission-free event celebrating the artistic achievements of students with disabilities and their mainstream peers. The festival features student and professional performances on two stages, visual and performing arts workshops, and a student art exhibit created around the theme, We Are One. (photo screenshot courtesy of www.musiccenter.org)

The Very Special Arts Festival is an annual admission-free event celebrating the artistic achievements of students with disabilities and their mainstream peers. The festival features student and professional performances on two stages, visual and performing arts workshops, and a student art exhibit created around the theme, We Are One. (photo screenshot courtesy of www.musiccenter.org)

LOS ANGELES (October 18, 2013) – Celebrating its 35th anniversary, The Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival today welcomed more than 1,000 students with disabilities and their mainstream peers from all over Los Angeles County to share their artistic achievements in both visual and performing arts.  This year’s festival, the largest in The Music Center’s history, included live performances of music and movement from more than 80 student groups and a display of more than 1,000 pieces of 2-D and 3-D student artwork.

Built around the theme, “We Are One,” to reinforce the importance of respect for the diverse populations of the County, the free festival featured continuous student performances on two outdoor stages on The Music Center Plaza, along with numerous visual and performing arts participatory workshops led by both professional teaching artists and high school students.  Students also experienced a showcase of exotic animals from the Wildlife Learning Center; guide puppies from Guide Dogs of America; stilt walkers; performances by magician Allen Oshiro, mimes The Chameleons and a capella group The Alley Cats; a disco and much more.

“From its early days, The Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival has had one main mission:  to recognize the talents of all students and to create a welcoming and engaging environment in which students, including those with disabilities, have access to the transformative power of arts,” said Mark Slavkin, vice president of education for The Music Center.  “We’re proud that over the years this very special event has touched the lives of more than 200,000 students, along with their families and teachers, and are excited to see it continue to grow and evolve.”

Students who participate in the festival work hard from the start of the school year preparing for their involvement in the festival.  They create a performance or submit artwork around the festival theme.  According to Joann Waybright, an adapted physical education teacher at Park Western School in San Pedro, California, the process is as important as the outcome.  “The kids practice very hard and look forward not only to getting on stage but to enjoying the camaraderie, the celebration and the opportunity to be embraced by their peers,” she explained.  “The arts are a great leveler, and The Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival creates a place where there are no boundaries and where everyone is appreciated.”

The Music Center Plaza came alive with 82 student performances by 68 schools on two large outdoor stages.  Students also enjoyed interacting with a number of high school students, including visual arts and theatre students from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, which conducted a face painting workshop; as well as with students from Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, Los Angeles High School of the Arts at Robert F. Kennedy Community School and UCLA Community School at Robert F. Kennedy Community School.

The Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival is produced in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles County Office of Education.  Schools with students in grades K-12 are invited to participate.  Support for this year’s event comes from the Department of Cultural Affairs, LSMK Investments, The Binder Foundation, The Music Center Leadership Council and the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation.

For more information about The Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival, visit musiccenter.org.

 

About The Music Center

A leader at the cultural heart of Los Angeles County, The Music Center brings to life one of the world’s premier arts destinations by creating opportunities for arts participation, enabling compelling programming and providing first-class venues and services. The Music Center is one of the largest and most highly regarded performing arts centers in the country, creating a cultural hub that is central to L.A.’s status as “the creative capital” of the world. Celebrated for its illustrious dance programming Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center and home to four world class resident companies – Center Theatre Group, LA Opera, LA Phil and Los Angeles Master Chorale – The Music Center is the place to experience the most innovative and critically-acclaimed performing arts in the nation. In its effort to extend the reach and accessibility of the performing arts, The Music Center is a national model for experiences in which people participate directly through its Active Arts® at The Music Center.  As well, The Music Center presents special productions, events and festivals for children and families, including World City™ at The Music Center.  Each year, more than one million audience members delight in the excitement of live performances on The Music Center’s stages and enjoy free community arts events all year long across its outdoor campus.  The Music Center is also on the forefront of arts education in Los Angeles, providing arts resources to students and teachers in schools and community centers throughout the region.

For more information, visit http://www.musiccenter.org and follow The Music Center on Facebook and Twitter (@MusicCenterLA).

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