Tag Archives: Arts Education

Top ten signs you’re an arts advocate

Liz Trimble pauses to enjoy artwork during a college admissions tour

10. You attend arts advocacy events like the Arizona Arts Congress 2012 (taking place Feb. 7 — and yes, there’s still time to get involved).

9. You talk with education leaders (school board members, principals and others) about the importance of funding and supporting art in schools and classrooms.

8. You troll publications like Arizona Capitol Times looking for arts-related news and legislation (like a recent issue noting bills about renewing the Arizona Commission on the Arts and creating an Arizona Poet Laureate).

7. You attend diverse art-related exhibitions and events in your community — and choose art-related events for time with family and friends.

6. You support local arts venues and museums by doing your gift shopping in their gift shops (there’s still time to gather art-related Valentine’s Day fare).

5. You write letters to the editor sharing evidence for the role of arts in building strong communities, economies, schools and families.

4. You curl up at night with reports like “Capitalizing on Arizona’s Arts & Culture” (prepared in conjunction with the 98th Arizona Town Hall).

3. You enroll your children in arts-related programs that foster their love and familiarity with visual art, dance, film, music, poetry, theater and other art forms.

2. You donate money or time to at least one local arts organization (even small gifts of time, talent and financial resources are appreciated and make a difference).

1. You take time to thank legislators, businesses and others who support arts on a national, state and local level.

– Lynn

Note: To learn more about arts and culture in Arizona, visit www.azarts.gov and www.azcitizensforthearts.org.

Coming up: Moving beyond tragedy through a community art project

Student choreographer soars

Rehearsal for Violet Flight: Pursuit of Significance choreographed by Britta Joy Peterson (Photo: Hayley Brunetto)

Britta Joy Peterson, one of several student choreographers whose work will be featured during this weekend’s Breaking Ground student showcase at Tempe Center for the Arts, started tap and ballet classes in Minnesota when she was just seven years old. She moved to Arizona after earning an undergraduate degree in dance, and is now enrolled in ASU’s M.F.A. in dance program.

Peterson credits her parents with launching her love of the arts. Seems her mother enjoyed painting “natural things” in watercolor, and her father was a musician. Peterson is the youngest of three siblings, and all were expected growing up to be active in one arts activity and athletic activity. Dance, she says, counted for both.

Still, she chose to try lots of other things, including choir, softball, soccer and flag football — and spent ten years playing violin. “All those things,” reflects Peterson, “are a huge part of the artist I am now.” Peterson says she “fell in love with being creative” while participating in community theater.

Violet Flight: Pursuit of Significance rehearsal at ASU (Photo: Hayley Brunetto)

Performing in shows like “The Prince and the Pauper” and “Cabaret” was more fun, she recalls, than simply “regurgitating” routines she was learning in dance classes. So was scuba diving with her family in Mexico and New Zealand, and the skiing that fueled her love of jumping and flying through the air.

“My parents worked hard to expose us to the outdoors,” says Peterson. “My dad is an avid bird watcher.” Hence Peterson’s use of elements like feathers and sunsets in her choreography. Tonight Peterson and other dancers are rehearsing at ASU — readying for the 2pm Breaking Ground student showcase on Sat, Jan. 28.

“Recurring Reverie,” which is being performed on TCA’s north patio, was choreographed by Peterson in collaboration with Juan Rodriguez. They also perform the piece — which was inspired by each artist’s recurring dreams. Peterson calls it “an exploration of the human capacity for creativity,” adding that gender roles are a “minimum undertone.”

Peterson's Violet Flight: Pursuit of Significance (Photo: Hayley Brunetto)

The Breaking Ground student showcase concludes with eight dancers performing Peterson’s “Violet Flight: Pursuit of Significance.” Peterson describes the two works as “very different” and says she’s grateful to Carley Conder and CONDER/dance for giving students the opportunity to showcase  and share their work. “It’s important,” says Peterson, “for students across the Valley to exchange ideas.”

“I’m always synthesizing material in my head,” says Peterson, who thinks of herself as an “imaginative laboratory.” She’s a “big advocate of arts education” who says the arts have taught her to “think in many different ways.” Peterson is convinced that creativity and problem solving learned through the arts translate to science and a host of other fields.

“I’m lucky to have parents, and a community of people around me, who support my art endeavors,” reflects Peterson.

– Lynn

Note: Click here for 2012 Breaking Ground (which includes a 2pm student showcase and an 8pm professional showcase) details and ticket information

Coming up: Sneak peek at other 2012 Breaking Ground fare

Art, art resolution!

If you’re keen on making New Year’s resolutions, consider one of the following resolutions that’ll help support local arts and culture…

I resolve to…hit arts & culture venues and events. Choose museum cafes for get-togethers with friends. Enjoy date nights at concerts, plays, poetry readings or dance events. Schedule playdates at children’s museums. Invite friends to join you for art festivals and art walks. Take your children to outdoor concerts. Shop for gifts at library, museum and performing art venue shops. Take out of town visitors to museums, galleries and performances.

I resolve to…donate to arts & culture groups. Make a year-end gift to your favorite art, music, dance or theater group. Pledge to give a set amount to one or more arts groups each month next year. Make donations on behalf of others to honor special birthdays or anniversaries. Include one or more arts organizations in your will. Organize a coin drive to help kids donate spare change to favorite arts groups. Give up one luxury next year and share the savings with a local arts or culture organization.

I resolve to…volunteer time with arts & culture organizations. Help a local theater group by sewing costumes, painting sets or covering the box office. Volunteer to work at boutiques held during symphony, opera or ballet performances. Sign up for docent training at a favorite museum. Serve as an usher at your local performing arts venue. Offer to help an arts and culture organization with clerical tasks. Volunteer to serve on an arts-related committee.

I resolve to…advocate for arts & culture. Talk with school leaders about increasing arts education. Attend the 2012 Arizona Arts Congress and other advocacy events. Contact local legislators about increasing arts funding. Let businesses know you value those that support arts and culture. Write letters to the editor about the role of arts and culture in building a strong economy. Consider candidate support for arts and culture when voting. Sign up for advocacy alerts from Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts.

I resolve to…be informed about arts & culture. Read local and national news related to arts and culture. Sign up for e-newsletters from several arts and culture organizations. Follow the Arizona Commission on the Arts on social media. Attend lectures and demonstrations by local artists and perfomers. Take classes in music, writing, dance, painting or other types of art.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and here to learn more about Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts.

Coming up: Nesting tales

All artwork featured in this post is from a quilt titled “Juliette Low is Our Cup of Tea” created by Girl Scout Troop 325 in Pensacola, FL for the “Dream Rocket Project” (formerly exhibited at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix).  Photos by Lynn Trimble.

Art Rocks! Animals Rock!

Hoodlums Music & Movies is teaming up with Arts Council for Youth, Marcos de Niza High School, Kyrene Middle School and the City of Tempe to present an arts and crafts show called Art Rocks! 

The Art Council for Youth is a non-profit, all volunteer organization that promotes visual and performing arts for all students. It provides opportunities and financial support in arts disciplines for students in Tempe Union, Kyrene and Tempe Elementary public schools.

Art Rocks! takes place Sat, Dec. 10 from 6-9pm at Hoodlums, which is next to another nifty Local First Arizona business — Changing Hands Bookstore. The event will showcase student photography, ceramic, and fine art works — and student bands will perform during the shindig.

I’m told that some of the artwork will be available for purchase, so you can do the holiday shopping thing while supporting local schools. Money raised through the sale of student works will support art & education programs in the Tempe Union and Kyrene school districts.

“We believe,” says Jennifer Doering of the Arts Council, “that arts are vital to people of all ages, and a powerful tool for educating for a brighter future.”

Parents who’ve enjoyed time at the Phoenix Zoo know that animals rock too — and can join fellow grown-ups on March 30, 2012 for a “Rock the Zoo!” event featuring a battle of local bands.

Local bands have until Wed, Dec. 14 to submit required materials if they want to be considered for the “Battle of the Bands” competition. The Phoenix Zoo will choose ten finalists, then let folks vote for their favorites online between Jan. 2 & 20. I’m told that the two bands with the most votes get the gig.

The “fine print” specifies that participants must be at least 21 years of age, perform alternative/rock music and maintain an active Facebook account. Contest winners must perform at “Rock the Zoo!” on March 30, 2012. And only those who submit required materials by the deadline will be considered.

That’s why your parents worked so hard all those years to hone your skills in paying attention, following directions and meeting deadlines. Yup — parents rock too!

– Lynn

Note: To learn more about “Art Rocks!,” visit www.artsjam.org, contact Jennifer at 602-432-9190 or give the fine folks at Hoodlums a call at 480-775-2722. Click here for information on entering the Phoenix Zoo “Battle of the Bands” competition. “Rock the Zoo!” is an age 21+ event, and picture I.D. will be required for entry. Let the little monkeys join you for “Zoo Lights” instead.

Coming up: Storytelling through letters

Thespian crossing

The streets of Phoenix are overrun each fall by high school students who look like they just inherited the world’s largest candy store. Dressed in colorful garb, they chatter with wide-eyed excitement — thrilled to be out of the classroom and into the spotlight of Arizona’s Thespian Festival.

These Santa Rita High School students enjoyed the thespian marketplace on Friday

A teacher from Higley High School who had 28 teens in tow was the first to cross my path, pointing me to the right part of the massive Phoenix Convention Center — where I soon encountered all sorts of thespians dressed for the day’s “jungle theme.”

Students from Desert View High School doing the jungle theme proud

Linda Phillips, state director for the Arizona Thespians, gave me a warm welcome — then set me up with a nametag and such before I headed out to explore the exhibitor area.

These students from Notre Dame Preparatory High School rocked safari gear and dialect

I hit the silent auction area first, eager to see this year’s offerings — which include amazing autographed items (Playbills, posters and such), gift baskets and more. Proceeds benefit student scholarships and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Samples of amazing silent auction items at this year's Arizona Thespian Festival

Soon I was trading Shakepearean insults with a charming fellow from Dramatic Publishing, and talking with a lovely woman about some of their newer offerings — including “The Bully Plays.” I bought a couple of things and made my way to several vendor tables.

I said hello to the fine folks from Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix, talked with Amanda Melby of Verve Studios about their relocation from downtown Phoenix to the Scottsdale Airpark, and chatted with a gentleman from Jester’Z Improv Comedy in Scottsdale.

Valley Youth Theatre was there to share news of their many programs and shows

Next I strolled through a hallway running past several rooms full of students taking classes in everything from singing for actors to theater lighting. A class titled “No Fear Ballroom Dancing” seemed the clear favorite Friday morning, with well over 100 students taking part.

This Friday morning ballroom dancing workshop was packed

More thespians crossed my path after workshops let out for lunch, and the convention center seemed a sea of t-shirts — all bearing the names of shows the students recently performed, from “The Yellow Boat” to “The Elephant Man.”

Sudents from Cienega High School in Vail gathered during lunch on Friday

Watch for future posts featuring thespian tales from this year’s festival. And watch as well for thespians crossing the road. They bring an amazing energy to the streets of downtown Phoenix, and I can’t wait for them to cross my path again as they start making their way to stages in Arizona and beyond.

– Lynn

Note: If I snapped your picture but didn’t include it here, there’s a good chance you’ll see it in a future post — so stay tuned for more thespian tales.

Coming up: Spotlight on spring musicals

Walking with Waddell

Detail of the John Waddell Dance installation in downtown Phoenix

I pause each time I pass a work by sculptor John Waddell, whose pieces meld metal with movement to evoke emotion and reflection. Waddell is being honored Friday evening at the Herberger Theater Center, home to his “Dance” works created between 1969 and 1974.

Detail of Dance by John Waddell

I first encountered Waddell’s work when my children attended schools housed at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix – the church where we took our son Christopher to Gymboree classes as a toddler. It was designed by Blaine Drake, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The UUCP has lovely meditation and memorial gardens, which I strolled through on Wednesday before paying a visit to several of my children’s former teachers at Desert View Learning Center.

A winding path with a border of small stones on either side leads from the church parking lot to a Waddell piece titled “That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham, 1963” — created in reaction to a Sunday school bombing in Alahama that killed four young girls.

That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham, 1963 by John Waddell

The UUCP has a long tradition of promoting social justice, and is active in several areas — including immigration, health care, the environment, education, homelessness and gender equality.

John Waddell sculpture at the Burton Barr Central Library

Still, it’s the Waddell work exhibited at the Burton Barr Central Library that I walk by most often, as I make my way from their @ Central art gallery back to my car with an armload of books or goodies from the Friends’ Place shop.

Folks who’ve enjoyed similar walks with Waddell can join fellow appreciators of his work Friday evening as Waddell becomes the 2011 inductee into the Herberger Performing Arts and Broadcast Arts Hall of Fame.

The Nov. 18 ceremony includes an hors d’oeuvres and cocktails reception, a performance by the Phoenix Boys Choir and screening of a Marlo Bendau work titled “Rising: The Art and Life of John Waddell.” Also coffee and desserts, a silent auction and the unveiling of Waddell’s “The Gathering.”

Photograph of sculptor John Waddell taken by Michel Sarda

Recently I enjoyed a photograph of Waddell exhibited in the Herberger Art Gallery titled “Retrospective Exhibition of the Art Photography of Michel Sarda.” Sarda has authored several books, including “John Henry Waddell: The Art and the Artist” — which features more than 400 illustrations.

Sarda is chairing Friday’s event, which benefits the Herberger Theater’s arts education and outreach initiatives. These include the Arizona Young Artists competition, the Wolf Trap program serving preschool and Head Start students, and a multicultural theater camp for homeless, abused and neglected teens.

– Lynn

Note: Other weekend events at the Herberger Theater Center include the iTheatre Collaborative production of Mamet’s “Race” and the Arizona Theatre Company production of “God of Carnage.” Center Dance Ensemble opens “Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen” Dec. 3. Also note that the Herberger Theater Festival of the Arts takes place Oct. 6, 2012.

Coming up: Bella does bridal, ThesCon tales

Contemporary art meets Comicon

Potential by Laura Favela of South Mountain High School

My youngest daughter Lizabeth, who’ll turn 18 next month, will be enjoying one of her holiday gifts next weekend — tickets to Phoenix Comicon, taking place May 26-29 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

I’ve encouraged her to swing by the SMoCA and Scottsdale Public Art table while she’s there, so she can get the scoop on comic book-themed tandem exhibitions conceived by Phoenix artist Jon Haddock — showing at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art May 21-Oct 2.

The comic exhibition is titled “Idios Kosmos: Koinos Kosmos” — meaning “Us Versus Them” and “Masters of Collective Reality.” Seems a fitting exhibit in light of the fact that we’re all still here today despite predictions to the contrary.

If you head to SMoCA before June 5, you can see the work of Brazilian conceptual artist Rivane Neuenschwander in an exhibit titled “A Day Like Any Other” that was organized by the New Museum in New York City.

Trapped by Andrea Kidd of South Mountain High School

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents 10-14 exhibitions of contemporary art, architecture and design every year. But my favorite SMoCA exhibit space, the young@art gallery, is actually located at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

The young@art gallery houses only works by youth, and exhibits change several times each year. Each summer SMoCA presents works by students at area high schools who’ve participated in an education program for teens titled “Visions.”

The current “Visions” exhibit is titled “Picture I.D.” It features works by students from five Valley high schools — Central, Chaparral, McClintock, Saguaro and South Mountain. Think photography, painting and sculpture. Then think talented. And enjoy the “sneak peeks” throughout this post.

Work by Kalynda Barton of McClintock High School

To learn more about experiencing these works in person, visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art website at www.smoca.org.

Thursday nights, by the way, are always free — as is admission for museum members and youth 15 and under whenever the museum is open.

My children enjoyed many a SMoCA exhibit when they were younger, but their favorite times took place at Scottsdale Civic Center Mall – where low, gentle hills make for fun play areas. The museum is holding two family-friendly events in June.

The June 24 “Summer Opening Celebration” includes hands-on craft activities for adults and children — thanks to the Scottsdale crafting community and a new family-friendly store called “Splendid” (coming soon to Scottsdale Fashion Square).

The June 30 “Summer Family Night at the Museum” includes a kid-friendly tour of comic-theme exhibitions, an outdoor make-your-own comic book creature activity and a bit of giant bubble play coupled with splash time in outdoor fountains.

Bring your towels and bathing suits…

– Lynn

Note: SMoCA participates in a reciprocal museum program so membership in SMoCA entitles you to free admission to several other museums around the country. Click here to explore a list of reciprocal museums before planning your next vacation. Also check with SMoCA before attending their events to confirm dates/times, costs and other details.

Coming up: Remembering JFK, From Sondheim to South Park

Updated with corrections 4/26/12 LT

GRAMMY Foundation honors Arizona school

When tickets went on sale recently for two year-end “Showcase” performances by Arizona School for the Arts, I was first in line to get mine — for both May 31 and June 1 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix.

Arizona School for the Arts is a Phoenix charter school for grades 5-12 that prides itself on coupling rigorous academics with conservatory level performing arts training in music, theater and dance.

My daughter Lizabeth is in the senior class, and will be performing both evenings with fellow students in the theater department. When last I heard, the ASA Glee/Show Choir (with select Jazz Band members) was scheduled to open the May 31 performance with a song from the Broadway musical “American Idiot.”

She’s especially thrilled having seen “American Idiot” with her dad just a few months ago at the St. James Theater in NYC.

Other ASA groups performing Tuesday evening include Advanced Guitar, Ballet Corps Intensive, Chamber Singers, High School Piano Team, Intermediate Dance, Jazz Band Combos, Wind Ensemble and more.

Students from ASA perform during their 2010 Showcase

Turns out that the ASA music department will be enjoying a rather special honor that evening — as a representative from the GRAMMY Foundation presents ASA one of its 2011 GRAMMY Signature Schools Enterprise Awards.

Laura Apperson, ASA arts director and professional musician, notes that ASA is the first and only school in Arizona ever to receive the prestigious award. The application process, says Apperson, included submitting extensive written materials and recordings of music performance by ASA students.

Resonation Multimedia helped ASA prepare the CD submitted to the GRAMMY Foundation — which included performances by the following groups: Chamber Singers, Orchestra, Sinfonia, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, Guitar Ensemble and Piano Quartet.

The GRAMMY Foundation reports that each of the 27 schools receiving the Enterprise Award this year will receive a $5,500 grant. Apperson is thrilled that the funds will help ASA invest in mixers, mics and other recording equipment for use in classroom and performance settings.

Several ASA music groups are performing during Wednesday’s “Showcase” at the Orpheum Theatre — including 5th and 6th Grade Choirs, Men’s Choirs, Percussion Ensemble, the Showcase Orchestra and more. Additional June 1 performance groups include Ballet Foundations I & II, Intro to Dance, Theatre and more.

Students from ASA perform during their 2010 Showcase

I have to admit that when I first learned of ASA’s GRAMMY Foundation award, I thought for a second that they’d received a GRAMMY Award for vocal performance.

Last time I heard one of ASA’s advanced choral ensembles perform, under the direction of Craig Westendorf, it brought tears to my eyes. I’m convinced that it was one of the best choral performances I’ve ever experienced — anywhere. But alas, they won’t let me give those Grammy puppies out on the spot.

I hope you’ll join me for ASA Showcase 2011 on May 31 and/or June 1. I’ll be the one in the lobby humming the little ditty by Green Day.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about the work of this “Excelling” (from the Arizona Department of Education) and “Blue Ribbon” (from the U.S. Department of Education) school.

Coming up: SMoCA young@art gallery welcomes new exhibit, What’s new in Shakespeare?, Art meets the Arizona State Capitol, Charmed (literally) by Childsplay

Photos courtesy of Arizona School for the Arts

Art meets Arizona Town Hall

Some pretty cool things happened during 1962 in the arts world…

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev first danced together — during a performance of “Giselle” with the Royal Ballet in London. Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” exhibit opened in L.A.

The Beatles released their first EMI single — “Love Me Do.” The play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” opened on Broadway. And songwriter/rocker Jon Bon Jovi was born in New Jersey.

In Arizona, something called “Arizona Town Hall” was born. It’s an “independent, nonprofit membership organization that identifies critical issues facing Arizona, creates the forum for education and exploration of the topic and fosters leadership development.”

They’ve held nearly 100 “Arizona Town Hall” events since 1962, but this year’s event is their first to focus on Arizona arts and culture. You’d have a hard time convincing me that 97 other issues have been more important to our state through the years. Still, I’m thrilled that arts and culture finally made it to the top of their list.

The 98th “Arizona Town Hall” convenes this week (May 1-4) in Tucson, with approximately 150 Arizona citizens taking part. I recognized plenty of names when I checked out the list at www.www.aztownhall.org. Steve Martin of Childsplay. Dan Schay of Phoenix Theatre. Bill DeWalt of the Musical Instrument Museum.

You can hit the “Arizona Town Hall” website for a full list of folks taking part. The Arizona Commission on the Arts promises daily coverage of the event for those of us not fortunate enough to be there. And a final report will be issued with the groups’s findings, which will be available to the public online.

You can read this Arizona Town Hall Background Report online

I’m not keen on waiting for the final report, so I’ve been reading the “Arizona Town Hall” background report – put together in large measure by Arizona State University, with Betsy Fahlman serving as editor.

The curated report “combines the work of nearly 30 Arizona author-contributors, and 10 artists and poets.”

Its 236 pages include a comprehensive history of Arizona arts and culture that should be required reading for anyone who works or plays with the arts.

Specific chapters of the report address areas such as arts education, tourism and cultural heritage, historic preservation, public libraries, museums, parks and the performing arts. Also economic issues, urban revitalization, public art and more.

There’s even fun show and tell type stuff. Figures on the “creative industries in Arizona.” Tables on arts-related employment, state art budgets, federal arts funding and the ever-sexy “per capita spending on states arts agencies.” Graphs showing “availability of arts education” and “per-pupil arts spending.”

But what exactly will “Arizona Town Hall” participants be talking about in Tucson? I browsed a few of their discussion outlines, and found topics like these: What’s unique about Arizona arts and culture? How does the Arizona arts spectrum represent diverse populations?

They’ll also discuss the impact of Arizona arts and culture on our economy, education and quality of life. Plus the roles of private enterprise, private philanthropy, governments and other types of support for arts and culture.

When all is said and done, and their final report is issued, I’m guessing the impact — assuming we all own up to our own responsibilities for enhancing Arizona arts and culture — will make 2011 a year to rival 1962. Except, of course, for that whole Bon Jovi thing.

– Lynn

Coming up: Dance meets fashion, Celebrating “Book Week,” Put on your party clothes!

Update: Final recommendations from the 98th Arizona Town Hall are now available. Click here to see them. The 5/12/11 episode of “Horizon” on Eight, Arizona PBS focused on findings and recommendations from the 98th Arizona Town Hall. Click here to learn more about “Horizon” and the “Arizona ArtBeat” program.

10 year old tales

I peeked over my daughter Lizabeth’s shoulder as she was flipping though the latest issue of “Teen Vogue” magazine this morning. She was headed to the airport for a final round of college theater program auditions.

Jonathan Morgan Heit, age 10, already works in TV and film

One article in particular caught my eye — a profile of 10-year-old Willow Smith titled “Whipper Snapper.” Recently I learned about the many accomplishments of 10-year-old actor Jonathan Morgan Heit – who’ll make his voice over series acting debut on Valentine’s Day.

He’s the voice of “Cubby” on Disney’s new animated series titled “Jake & the Never Land Pirates.” But Heit’s list of acting credits goes way back, and includes film roles in “Bedtime Stories,” “Date Night” and “Valentine’s Day.”

Heit “has a strong interest in becoming a director” and has already completed two courses at the New York Film Academy — which inspired him to write and direct two short films called “It Happens” and “Coincidence.”

Who knew 10 years olds like Heit could be such snappy dressers?

Seems he’s also fond of supporting good causes — including the Screen Actors Guild’s “Book Pals” and “Lollipop Theater Network” — plus simple pleasures like horseback riding and hip hop dance (though never undertaken in tandem).

Click here to see a You Tube video featuring Heit’s work on behalf of “Next Aid” – an L.A.-based nonprofit using “the power of music to support sustainable development projects that serve vulnerable children, youth and women in Africa.”

Folks who attend the “Sedona International Film Festival” this year can see Heit’s performance in a 21-minute short film called “Starsucker” with Tom Arnold.

I spoke with Heit by phone this morning, eager to learn how someone so young becomes such an early achiever. It sounds like a mix of smarts, energy, people skills, hard work and talent — fueled by the support of family and friends and enriching education experiences.

One of the many adventures of actor and director Jonathan Morgan Heit

Heit says he first got interested in the arts while attending a local preschool program called “Shir-Hashirim.” His father Jay describes “Hollywood Montessori” as “the program where Jonathan started his career.”

Heit is clearly excited about attending his first film festival later this month in Sedona. He’s a film buff whose own favorite directors include Alfred Hitchcock. Favorite films include “The Hurt Locker” and “Inception.”

On the subject of film festivals, this articulate and seemingly wise-beyond-his-years talent says that while winning is nice, simply having a film included and recognized in a festival is a good thing.

Jonathan Morgan Heit poses with "Cubby" from the new Disney Junior show

Watch for Heit on “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” starting Monday on the new Disney Junior channel, and keep an eye out for local theater companies performing “Peter Pan,” “The Pirates of Penzance” and other pirate-related fare.

Fun options include “The Monkey & The Pirate,” being performed Apr 27-May 8 at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix. It’s an original show that follows the antics of those searching for “a valuable banana treasure.”

Whatever you’re searching for, take time to enjoy the gifts of our young performing artists. Sometimes the best finds are unexpected.

– Lynn

Note: Looking for a local Willo to love? Head to the Annual Willo Historic Home Tour & Street Festival Sun, Feb 13, 10am-4pm. Click here for event and ticket information.

Coming up: The fine art of board games

Update: Thanks to Shelli Poulos for sharing news of Valley triplets whose music you can enjoy at www.triplefirrre.com. They’ll be among the many talented performers (including 10 year olds) at this year’s Kiva Elementary School talent show Thurs, March 10, at 6:00 pm at Saguaro High School — which is free and open to the public.