Concert benefits Waco arts, kids

Grace Ladd, director of the Waco Arts Initiative, shows students’ artwork. in this 2010 photo. Saturday’s concert will benefit the Waco Arts Initiative, allowing the nonprofit to continue helping children in low-income areas in Waco.
Lariat File Photo

By Brittney Coulter

Central Texas bands O, Loveland and The Light Parade will headline a benefit concert from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the backyard of Common Grounds to raise funds for the Waco Arts Initiative, a local organization that brings art to children in low-income communities.

This marks the first year the organization is holding a fundraiser of this scale that involves both the community and the Baylor campus.

Meredith Noles, the coordinator of direct services and executive president of the Waco Arts Initiative, said the recent restructuring of the organization has lead to a more impactful mode of fundraising than in previous years.

“We’re a lot more potent this year because of our restructuring,” Noles said. “I think that has had an impact on our benefit this year and allowed us to come into it with a different mindset.”

The event is come-and-go and entry will be $5.

Event-goers will also have the opportunity to view a live painting demonstration, purchase a custom-made screen printed t-shirt and view the artwork of children who participate in the Waco Arts Initiative.

Houston senior Lindsey Warner helped coordinate the event and said she hopes beautiful weather and the acoustic atmosphere at the event will attract students.

“The concert is going to be all acoustic for the most part, so it will be really relaxed,” Warner said.

All proceeds generated from the event will go towards enhancing the program.

“It’s really basic funding for us to better our program so we can impact these kids in a lot more potent fashion,” Noles said.

The Waco Arts Initiative is a nonprofit organization providing quality arts education for children living in low-income districts of Waco.

The organization provides an after-school program in the South Terrace community for children to express their creativity through the visual arts, theatre and music.

The children work with volunteers to hone their art skills through instructional classes and mentoring relationships. The culmination of the kids’ efforts comes at the end of each year when they have an opportunity to display their visual art in a gallery and perform theater and musical acts in front of an audience.

“We’re really big on giving these kids an outlet and helping them develop goals for the future,” Noles said. “Art is our medium to be able to communicate those things.”

Though the primary goal of the event is to raise funds for the organization, they also hope to raise awareness about the Waco Arts Initiative and inspire students to volunteer.

“In addition to financial support, we’re always looking for volunteers, especially males,” Warner said. “The boys who we’re trying to help need male mentors.”

A booth will be set up at the event for students who wish to volunteer with the organization.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the primary thing you need to be a fantastic volunteer for Waco Arts is not so much your art skill, but a focus on kids and a willingness to work with them,” Noles said.