The Art Festival in Antigua, Guatemala has several goals. Our primary goal is to promote art in the associations and communities around Antigua. We began the Art Festival in 2009 and invited five community organizations to participate. Two of the associations already had art programs, but three art programs were created just so the associations could participate in the Art Festival. By holding this event, local associations are inspired to create art programs in the curriculums. In 2010, we plan to invite more local associations to participate so that they will also be inspired to create art programs for their children.
A second goal is to use art to teach the importance of self-expression. Art is a very powerful form of expression and can give a voice to children and teenagers, boys and girls, indigenous and Ladinos. Children and youth living in poverty often have difficulties expressing themselves and releasing their emotions. They may turn to violence or drugs to escape their feelings. We want to teach children and youth how to express themselves in art and at the same time, create something beautiful. We hold workshops several months before the Festival to teach the associations different ways to teach art. We explain to them that we do care about technical skills, but we care more about the ability of the children to express themselves. We appreciate figurative art, but we also value abstract art that represents strong emotions or perspectives.