Long Beach Press Telegram / Stay Young

Downey arts nonprofit to partner with school district on youth arts initiative

By Greg Yee, Press-Telegram

DOWNEY >> A local arts organization is teaming up with the Downey Unified School District to launch a youth initiative aimed at enriching arts and culture education programs gutted by budget cuts and changing classroom standards.

The Stay Young Initiative launches in the last week of May and runs through the end of June. The initiative was developed by Downey Art Vibe, a nonprofit organization that operates the Stay Gallery in downtown Downey and will feature student exhibitions, field trips, festivals, internship opportunities and arts education programs.

“Our organization firmly believes that art education is crucial to develop students’ ability to innovate, communicate and collaborate,” said Valentin Flores, the organization’s executive director.

Flores hopes the initiative will strengthen the partnership between his organization and the school district.

Fostering a relationship with the schools and the community’s youth is key to the sustainability of Downey Art Vibe and the Stay Gallery, he said.

“We’re a lot more than a gallery space,” Flores said.

As part of the 'Downey Doodle-icious' Field Trip, elementary students are taught about Downey's history and the significance of preserving local culture. Here, Mayor Mario Guerra shows a 3rd grade class a painting of the founder of the City of Downey, John G. Downey.

Rani Bertsch, principal at Gallatin Elementary School, said one third-grade class participated in a pilot version of the initiative last year called the Downey Doodle-icous Field Trip, which involves a lesson on Downey’s history and the significance of preserving local culture.

“With kids, you can (teach them), but they really have to see it and feel it,” Bertsch said. “(The program) is definitely a tie-in to learning about our community. I’m just really happy that Downey has this arts initiative and that it’s coming into the schools.”

The 2014 Stay Young Initiative will kick off Saturday with the Warren High School Robotics “Swept Away” Demonstration at the Stay Gallery from 10 a.m. to noon.

The Downey Doodle-icous Field Trips will be held next with three third-grade classes participating, including one from Gallatin Elementary.

The Stay Young Festival of the Arts will be held from May 29-31. It will feature art from students at Downey and Warren high schools, and a special guest from Downey Adult School.

Old River Elementary School will take over the Stay Gallery on June 4 for the “Display at Stay” exhibit, with fourth- and fifth-grade classes participating.

The third annual Downey and Warren High School Photography Contest will be held June 6 at the Stay Gallery. Both school’s advanced photography departments will exhibit the year’s best work.

The Stay Young Initiative is sponsored by the Downey Kiwanis Foundation, Financial Partners Credit Union, Doctor Mary R. Stauffer, Porto’s Cuban Bakery and The MarketPlace Grill Cafe.

For more information on the initiative or on the events, visit www.stay-gallery.com/what-we-do or call 562-774-2056. The Stay Gallery is located at 11140 Downey Ave. in Downey.

Contact Greg Yee at 562-499-1476.

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