Wednesday, January 23, 2008

?Come Play with Us?

Children?s Arts Festival comes to fruition

Wood River Arts Alliance Children?s Arts Festival organizers Shannon Finnegan, Claudia McCain and Hilarie Neelie have worked tirelessly to get this new event off the ground. Photo by Dana DuGan




Express Staff Writers

As the name suggests, the Wood River Arts Alliance is all about togetherness. Though made up of 25 separate companies and individuals, the group has held jointly sponsored lectures, classes, symposiums and events.

It will hold its first major production for the community all day on Saturday, Jan. 26. The Children's Arts Festival will take place, for free, at the Community Campus in Hailey for children ages 5-12. Children 8 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Registration will begin at 9:15 a.m. with the first activities starting at 10 a.m.

"This day is for the children," said Claudia McCain, actress and founder of the alliance. "It gives us visibility because we have been membership driven. For children, we want it to be a joyful and easy entry into arts."

Hilarie Neelie, director of Footlight Dance Centre and treasurer of the alliance, said she had visited a summer arts festival in Boise, and learned that the event grew too big too fast.

"If you start small and get the community behind it, you will grow," Neelie said. "We want to bring all the arts organizations together to have performances and exhibitions."

Children can register for hands-on classes led by representatives of arts alliance members such as Company of Fools, Sun Valley Summer Symphony Music Conservatory and Boulder Mountain Clayworks in four time slots during the day.

By registering for one of the classes, the child is automatically entered in a drawing for three iPods. Among the sponsors of the event are Richard and Judith Smooke, College of Southern Idaho, the Papoose Club, Bank of America, New Theatre Company, the Idaho Commission on the Arts, Rotary Clubs and, most importantly, Blaine County School District.

Lunch will be available for purchase at the Internet Cafe at the Community Campus, and brown bag lunches are welcome. There will be interpreters for Hispanic children and at least one class taught in both Spanish and English.

There will also be walk-up activities in the common areas for kids who are not participating in one of the scheduled activities. And in the theater, there will be performances all through the day. Those will include theatre, improv, dance, music, puppets and story reading. In the gym, the Blaine County Recreation District will have games and activities along with an instrument petting zoo.

"The vision is that kids will walk into an atmosphere of acceptance and experience," McCain said. "Art changed my life and for a young person who hasn't discovered it, this might do it."

In addition there will artwork from all the Wood River Valley's schools exhibited throughout the Community Campus.

Adults are needed to help with volunteer duties. For more information or to volunteer, e-mail or call 578-7720.


Rhythm and news

One of the hands-on activity leaders during Wood River Arts Alliance's Children's Arts Festival will be drummer and composer Jason Vontver. Held at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., his rhythm class, Meat the Beat, for 5- to 8-year-olds, is sponsored by Notes Music in Hailey.

"We listen to music and play rhythms," he said. "We can make songs and record them on a loop sampler. The kids record something, play a beat and then layer on top of that. I'd like to have the kids walk away smiling, feeling like they want to play music again when they get home." Vontver moved to Ketchum with his wife, children's book author and illustrator Leslie Patricelli, and three young children in July 2007. A veteran session performer from Seattle, he has recorded with such musicians as The Cheebacabra for Mackrosoft Records, Jack Brownlow Trio for Jazz Focus Records, Braden Blake for Embryo Records and Aiko Shimada for Bera Records. Vontver also opened for Ben Harper, and has composed for TV commercials and shows.

Vontver is a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts where he received his Bachelor of Arts in jazz drums. He has taught drum lessons privately since 1994 and kids' rhythm workshops since 2006. A member of the Seattle Composers Alliance and the music industry union ASAP, his company, Bounce Music, composes musical ringtones.

He will also offer rhythm classes beginning Tuesday, Jan. 22, in Ketchum, and during the first week of February he'll begin teaching the "Meat the Beat class" for 4 years and older at Notes Music in Hailey.

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