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Children’s Creative Project Receives Leadership in the Arts Award from County Arts Commission

The Children’s Creative Project and it’s long-time executive director, Kathy Koury, were recognized by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors at the Dec. 8, 2015, meeting with a resolution acknowledging the 2015 Leadership in the Arts Award recipient. 

Second District Supervisor and Board Chair Janet Wolf made the presentation on behalf of the Board recognizing Kathy Koury and Children’s Creative Project for their significant contributions to arts education and community outreach. 

The Arts Commission’s presentation of the 2015 Leadership in the Arts Award took place Dec. 3 at the annual holiday gathering in the Channing Peake Gallery during 1st Thursday in Downtown Santa Barbara.

The Leadership in the Arts Award was established in 2006 as an annual award to honor and recognize individuals or organizations that have made a significant impact on the arts and culture of our region through innovative thinking and exemplary commitment to promoting, sustaining and advancing our quality of life through the Arts.

Children’s Creative Project has served as an arts education nonprofit program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office since 1974, collaborating with school districts, artists and arts organizations to develop arts education programs.

Since its inception, Children’s Creative Project has grown from providing visual and performing arts from 200 students to more than 50,000 underserved students each year at approximately 100 schools in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. 

Koury has served as the executive director of Children's Creative Project since 1977, creating the concept of the I Madonnari Italian street-painting festival in 1987 after a trip to Italy for a street-painting competition. The now iconic Festival that takes place each Memorial Day weekend and generates funding support for arts enrichment, focuses on the value of arts and showcases local talent.

According to said Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone, “Kathy Koury has been a giant in arts education in Santa Barbara County for over 40 years. She is a visionary and creative genius with incredible organizational skills, who also created and produced I Madonnari as a vehicle to support the Children’s Creative Project, which she also founded and still directs."

"She is a tenacious, skilled leader whose work has set the standard statewide and nationally," Cirone said.

Since 1981 Children’s Creative Project has provided free, world-renowned, professional multicultural performances and events to 4,000 elementary school children each year at the Arlington Theatre and the Santa Barbara Bowl through strategic partnerships with key arts supporters including the Santa Barbara Bowl Education Outreach, UCSB Arts & Lectures and others.

In 1999 Children’s Creative Project received “The Creative Ticket Schools of Excellence” award from the California Alliance or Arts Education, a member of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network.

For more information visit

— Lael Wageneck is the public engagement coordinator for the County of Santa Barbara.

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