“YEA! At 25: The Next Big Deal” was the topic at a recent art-discussion luncheon, sponsored by the Community Relations Committee of the Evanston Arts Council and held at the Autobarn, 1015 Chicago Ave.

Harvey Pranian, who founded Young Evanston Artists 25 years ago, explained why he thought it was important to give back to one’s community. “We inherit a community – the culture, the history, the story of a community. We give back to that.”

To involve as much of the community as possible, Mr. Pranian said, YEA! was designed to involve all schoolchildren in Evanston – drawing in their parents, families, friends, teachers and principals.

YEA! board president Matt Doherty described the findings of a RAND study that showed that “young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full year” are three to four times more likely than their peers to be recognized for academic achievement, participate in a math or science fair, win an award for writing, read for pleasure and perform community service, among other things.

Mr. Doherty said the YEA! board would like to make art more accessible to all young persons in Evanston on a year-round basis. To that end, the board envisions collaboration among teachers, arts organizations, District 65 schools, Evanston Township High School, the City of Evanston and the business community.

While work on that collaboration continues, other board members are preparing for the next YEA! day, May 19, when art by children in all of Evanston’s schools (preschools included) will be displayed on the sidewalks of Chicago Avenue and Dempster Street.

“I think Evanston is a special community that makes this possible,” said Mr. Pranian. “YEA! Day is absolutely magical.”