Evanston’s YEA! Festival To Feature the Work of 1,300 Youth Artists

Harvey Pranian wanted to give back his neighborhood. He realized, after all, that his clientele in Evanston and the surrounding area was supporting his art and antique business.

So, he put together a plan and pitched it to community, business and education leaders.

Pranian imagined an art festival that would allow local youth to showcase their creative talent in a non-competitive, non-commercial environment.

“It would be a nice way to give something back to the community,” Pranian recalls thinking.

That plan, hatched in 1987, became the Young Evanston Artists! Art Festival, an event that shines a spotlight on the work of the city’s young artists.

This year’s 23rd annual festival will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 15 at Chicago Avenue and Dempster Street, and will feature the artwork of approximately 1,000 children and the stage performances of 300 children.

The event involves some 6,000 pre-kindergarten through high school children from over 40 area schools. It’s made possible by the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, Pranian says.

“This is a completely volunteer-driven project,” Pranian says.

Since it began, Pranian says YEA! continued to grow.

“We’ve taken a great leap forward this year,” he says, adding that the event secured its first title sponsorship from Gina and Richard Fisher, owners of the Autobarn Limited in Evanston.

Also new this year: Evanston’s Art Under Glass program, which places the work of area artists in unoccupied storefront windows, is displaying artwork from YEA! participants from Evanston School Districts 65 and 202, along the 1500 block of Maple Avenue.

For Pranian, his mission to give back to the community was a success.

“There’s really not a facet of this community that’s not touched in some way,” he says.

To learn more about volunteering for this year’s YEA! festival, click here. For a schedule of the day’s performances, click here.

Interested in other great events North Shore? Check out our Upcoming Events page.