Totem poles along Dempster Street at YEA! Day, 2010.

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Young Evanston Artists will host their 24th annual YEA! Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 21, on the street around Chicago Avenue and Dempster Street. Every year, the organization supports preschool through 12th-grade Evanston children by showcasing the artwork they have produced throughout the year.

The works on display range from drawings and sculptures to performance art.

“It involves the whole community,” said Harvey Pranian, founder and project director of YEA! “It involves not just the children but teachers, principals, schools, parents, individuals, the community – There is not a place that is not touched.”

More than 40 local schools participate every year and around 6,000 children are involved in the festival, either showing their work or volunteering in other ways. Cindy Adler, an art teacher at Chute Middle School and the District 65 Art Department chair, said this is her 11th year teaching in the district and participating in YEA! “I don’t think there is a comparable festival on the North Shore celebrating children’s art,” she said.

Explaining that not every child can showcase work every year because of limited space, Ms. Adler said her students often ask, “Is my work gonna be in YEA!?”

“I probably take about 200 pieces to display for the day. … Some elementary school teachers choose a grade [to display],” Ms. Adler said.

Lois Roewade has been on the YEA! steering committee for only two years but has been involved with YEA!, she said, for years. “My kids went through the Evanston schools so I was a ‘participant’ in YEA! then.”

One of the biggest benefits to the community, Ms. Roewade said, is that it offers “the opportunity for kids involved in the arts to strut their stuff a little better.”

Funding for the festival comes from donations through YEA!’s Silent Auction program and contributions from families and businesses in the community, said
Mr. Pranian.