Showcasing Youth & Culture

Jan Wright, Publisher, art & society

The flowers are blooming, trees are budding, farmers are back in the fields, gardens are taking shape… and the world feels like it’s opened up. For multiple generations, the Gerald M. Brookhart Arts in Education Spring Celebration has been a reliable harbinger of the season, showcasing the creative gifts of area students on weekdays at the Courthouse Plaza. Consider trekking downtown over lunchtime (through May 24th) to watch the various performers—and grab a tasty meal from one of our food cart vendors.

Through programs like this, we can experience the arts as vital to the growth and development of our young people. My daughter still has fond memories of the Congressional Art Competition, which selected her work for display in the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, alongside others from around the country. In this issue, we shine a light on just a handful of opportunities for young artists in our community.

Perhaps no one understands the power of the arts quite like Mary Jo Papich, this issue’s “Take 10” personality, who inspired young people in Peoria Public Schools for years. Though her career eventually took her elsewhere, she never forgot Peoria… and now she’s back! She even credited this magazine for helping her make that decision, as it kept her up on the arts and cultural scene while she was gone. We are elated to have her back—and she’s already begun to make her presence felt.

Last month, John Morris, new CEO of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, suggested he wanted to help make Peoria the greatest arts community in America. We’re thankful to have him at the helm of the museum, which has now magnified its cultural significance as the new location for the Peoria Holocaust Memorial. In this issue, Monica Vest Wheeler explains the symbolism of the buttons and its mission: to remind us why we must be vigilant as a society, “to combat discrimination and intolerance through education and acts of tolerance and inclusivity.”

If you’ve ever thought to try your hand at sailing, you can learn right here at the IVY Club, one of Peoria’s most unique amenities. Note the tips on wine tasting in this issue… perhaps a trip to Mackinaw Valley Vineyard is in your future? Whatever you prefer, our region has something to offer you. And finally, don’t forget to vote in our second annual Best of Peoria competition! a&s

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