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Again this year, Raymond Park became a wonderland of artistic creations: paintings, drawings, sculptures – serious or whimsical but all original – found space on tables and portable walls. Works by Evanston students in public and private schools from preschool to high school were on display for the community.
This was YEA!, the Young Evanston Artists festival, held each May since 1987.
“YEA! showcases the work and performances of aspiring Young Evanston Artists. It strives to reflect
the diversity of the City of Evanston and is committed to celebrate it via the arts,” according to its website, yea.org.
Harvey Pranian, then a business-owner on Dempster Street, conceived of the idea and recruited colleagues to sponsor an event to showcase the art of local students.
The history on the website says, “For the first 27 years YEA! came to life in the Dempster/Chicago Avenue business corridor with a fantastic array of art displays presented in the streets and on the sidewalks. In 2015, as the number of participants and attendees continued to grow, the festival relocated to Raymond Park in an effort to consolidate the event into one location, reduce congestion, and better insure the safety of the children. “
In 2017, Mr. Pranian, nearly 80 years old, decided it was time to end YEA. While several board members followed him into retiring from the YEA! Board, “a diverse and highly motivated group of community members came together and offered to take the reins. The former board was delighted to see the festival find new life and in January 2018, the new board officially began stewardship of the organization — with Harvey, of course, as a trusted advisor,” the history concludes.