In a continued effort to bring light to the importance of developing new creative outlets for youth in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, the Fine Arts Committee at Hedges Fine & Performing Art School (4747 S. Winchester) is hosting the first ever ‘Arts in the Yards’ festival, which will take place Friday, June 7, from 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. The elementary school’s art gallery and outdoor patio will showcase Hedges’ student artwork as well as live performances from the school’s band and orchestra. The event will also include a silent auction and spoken word performances by community members.

The American Planning Association confirms that “efforts to preserve, affirm, and advance cultural heritage can have important beneficial impacts on attempts to build community and create place identities. Many of these examples involve arts and cultural activity and the leadership of artists, historians, folklorists, anthropologists, planners, and a range of community stakeholders.” Adelfio Garcia, principal, agrees and has successfully implemented a variety of art and music instruction. “This event will highlight our student’s work throughout the year, the knowledge they’ve acquired in our various art programs and the talent that allows them to create these one-of-a-kind art pieces as well as musical performances. We are very proud of our students at Hedges, and we want to show that pride through this event.”

Music plays a huge role in any arts education program. Nathan Rodriguez, the school’s orchestra director says, “You can see their expressions change once they pick up an instrument and are able to play music. This is an amazing outlet for them to express their daily frustrations. These kids can rock.” According to the National Association for Music Education, SAT takers with a background involving musical instruction score significantly higher than their non-musically trained counterparts – a surprising 56 points higher on the verbal portion and 39 points higher on the math portion of the test. Other advocates of music instruction also cite numerous non-musical benefits including the building of greater self-esteem, concentration and coordination. And the longer music instruction lasts, the greater the benefits.

For further information regarding the 1st Annual Arts in the Yards festival, please contact Marina Alonso at 773-535-7360 or online via Twitter @HedgesSchool

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