10/14/2009 06:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Imagine Bus Project Brings Arts Education To Underserved Youth In San Francisco

Now more than ever it's excruciatingly clear that our educational system is in deep peril. We operate within a system strapped for money, increasingly ruled by standardized tests, underpaid educators and under-performing students. Some might say the concept of arts within schools is simply an extravagance we can't afford and don't need-- and it seems this population of believers is sadly winning, as the arts are being further cut from schools across the country.

I live under the same roof as a veteran educator who works in the private sector consulting, doing professional development in school districts in Southern California-- so I get a daily dose of the numbers involved, the politics of each districts endless list of needs, and a first person account on countless unmotivated teachers in tenure. I also receive an earful as to why arts were originally cut out; because our kids got a little "un-smart" along the way - apparently teachers focused a bit too much on arts, resulting in a slip in math and language; test scores suffered as well, know the story from there. I think that's a cop out.

Truthfully, I don't really care about the politics--as an artist, small business owner and creative soul , I care about one thing and that's accessibility of the arts for all. All I know is that it's crucial we find a way, by any means necessary, to keep creativity alive in our youth.
So while the politicians continue to cut programs left and right, we need to celebrate people who make it their mission to keep arts alive in our communities. My friend and creative maven Celia Tejada and quintessential San Franciscan and Mister make-it-happen Joe Alioto will be gathering among many other art lovers and children's advocates in San Francisco October 15th to support an inspiring and creative cause called The Imagine Bus Project (

The Imagine Bus Project reaches out to youth in underserved communities and provides them with sustained, positive and creative outlets for personal expression. They use visual arts techniques and work closely within communities, along with professional artists and educators who bring thoughtful ideas to youth and empower them to explore their potential, develop critical thinking skills and build their self-esteem.

Through The Art Bus, the project brings art directly to kids. The cool 28-foot shuttle bus is a fully outfitted mobile art studio. The Art Bus helps fill the need for arts for children who have little or no access. Professional artists provide age appropriate curriculum for art projects and the materials and supplies necessary to create them. I wonder if this bus can shuttle it's cute little self to Sacramento and Capitol Hill and give the lawmakers a splash of creative vision?

The Imagine Bus Project also partners with the San Francisco Unified School District's after school program and community based youth organizations to offer youth year-long quality art classes for K-8th grades. Classes are designed to help children improve their creative habits, learn to work collaboratively, increase their general knowledge and appreciation of art, and build skills in art making that support their confidence in the classroom. Take that politicians. This is a class we call "How to Build Well Rounded Children 101."

The Art Bus doesn't leave any child behind. For kids who really connect with creativity, The project offers Leadership Enterprise, and a free professional training program for young artists' ages 13 - 18 years old that focuses on commercial art skills such as graphic design, digital photography, web design, textile airbrushing, silk screening and print making. Sounds like a young Shepherd Fairy in the making to me.

Attendees at Thursday night's event "Art Is In The Air" will bid on 25 mirrors and "mirror themed" artworks exclusively created and designed by some of the area's top artists and designers, including Nima Oberoi, Topher Delaney and George Mead.

Even if art isn't your thing, but food and wine are, you won't want to miss the local fare.
Top local chefs have donated delicious bites, and wine makers like Florencia Palmaz, and Michael Honig will be pouring their top drawer, while Nunzio Alioto from Alioto's #8 rounds out the wines with some wonderful prosecco. Just another perfectly paired evening in San Francscio.

Together they will raise their glasses to toast the largest provider of after school art education in the Bay Area.

Put down your blackberries and pick up your wallet and head out to Terre San Francisco on Harrison Street Thursday evening. Help The Imagine Bus Project continue to bring creativity and arts education where it's needed most. Here, there and everywhere.