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Youth Festival

Arts, Music, Dance, Drama:  Great work SFUSD!

I am plain worn out listening to all the things that have gone wrong in our City and our Country.

It’s time for some good news. 

•••••••••• May 2023 ••••••••••

Thank you San Francisco Unified School District for delivering the goodies.  The arts are more than alive and well in San Francisco public schools.  In many cases, they are spectacular. A little hyperbole? Nope.  Take a look above at the poster for the San Francisco City Wide Youth Arts Festival created by student Natalie Wong.  Yes, spectacular!

Every school in every part of San Francisco now celebrates the arts. Each of SFUSD’s 22,000 elementary students have access to a credentialed art teacher and 14,000 middle and high school students are enrolled in one or more of the five arts disciplines: dance, drama, music, media arts, and visual art.

How all students in San Francisco got arts education

I always put student art events on my calendar.  It’s hard to tell sometimes whether I get more enjoyment out of the quality of the performance or the sheer joy I see in the student faces.

There is a little back story to this. 

When my children were in elementary school at the Japanese Bilingual Program at Clarendon elementary, student art and culture was celebrated throughout the school year. The parents paid for the music and dance instruction.  But I soon realized that many schools did not have arts programs. It was unfair! It was inequitable!  And in my naive state as the mother of elementary school children, I was going to fix it!  

Naive or not, we created momentum. We created a community in our city that spoke out for arts for every child in our public schools.

Then magic.

Working with Supervisor Mable Tang, we held hearings throughout the City on the importance of arts in school. Supervisor Tom Ammiano put a school funding initiative on the ballot that specifically pays for arts for every San Francisco school!!  And it passed overwhelmingly.  

art wall
A wall with art

Fast forward to last week.

I visited the Bayview Opera House as part of the annual youth arts festival. An elementary school boy, attending the arts event with his mom, proudly pointed to his artwork. The next day, at the De Young, another youngster showed me his drawing with pride.  I smiled and smiled.

The students at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts showed the power and excitement of Taiko drums. The student audience literally screamed them on. More smiles than I have seen in years.  At Lowell High School, students performed in “Reflect, An evening of Dance”. There was no doubt that these kids worked long and hard to create this dance


Arts education is not just about learning discrete artistic skills.  It is about discovering the diverse cultures of your community.  It is about learning that hard work and practice pay off.  But most of all, it is about the pride of creating something magical, the thrill of performance, the emotional bond the arts create for the artist and the school community.

Whenever I go to SFUSD arts performances, I smile and smile with the knowledge that parents working together can really change the world for our children.

Upcoming student performances.


PAST PRESENT FUTURE, a full-length production by World Dance, combines dance and music from various cultures across time and space in an effort to highlight our inescapable ties to the past and longing for a better future. Join us! 

Friday, May 5, 2023 @ 7:00 PM

Saturday, May 6, 2023 @ 7:00 PM

Ruth Asawa School of the Arts

Dan Kryston Memorial Theater

555 Portola Drive

San Francisco, CA  94131


Come celebrate Ruth Asawa School of the Arts 40th Anniversary with the Conservatory Dance Department's Spring Concert "Eclipsed". Conservatory Dance is proud to showcase all original choreography, with nine pieces choreographed by students, and featuring choreography by 2017 alumna, Audrey Thao Berger.

Fort Mason, Cowell Theater

Friday, May 19, 2023 @ 7:00 pm

Saturday, May 20, 2023 @ 7:00 pm

Sunday, May 21, 2:00 pm

Carol Kocivar is a children’s advocate and lives in the Westside. Feedback:

May 2023

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