Arts Jam

At Kyrene Centennial Middle School Suzanne Whitaker shows off one of the five murals she's done for the Kyrene school district. Whitaker is donating $500 to a person in-home mural to be auctioned off in a silent auction at the Arts Jam and Kyrene Honors Band Festival. The Arts Jam will take place Friday, March 2 from 5 � 9 pm at the Mountain Pointe High School campus and will feature performances and art works from students and local artists. Feb 17, 2012. Darryl Webb/AFN

Darryl Webb

Two local organizations hope their partnership will spur interest and funds for a school subject that has been the victim of cutbacks the last few years.

The Kyrene Music and Fine Arts Association and the Arts Council for Youth are hosting an event, called Arts Jam, at Mountain Pointe High School on March 2 with live music from local performers, as well as a silent auction that will benefit fine arts teachers in the area. This is the fifth year for the Arts Jam and the first one at Mountain Pointe.

"The money we raise goes back to the teachers," said Jennifer Doering, president of Arts Council for Youth. "One time we had a teacher who said they were out of glue sticks. We said, ‘You're really out of glue sticks?' This organization is our way to help them out."

Performing at the Arts Jam will be the Kyrene Honors Band, Mountain Pointe Wind Ensemble, Kyrene Middle School Jazz Band and Orchestra, and the Ahwatukee Community Band. Doering said for kids to come and see that someone can be dedicated to the arts and music throughout their life is not only possible, but it happens with members of the Ahwatukee Community Band.

"We have the younger bands as well as the adult, Ahwatukee Community Band," she said. "The kids can see it is a lifetime thing. These people are professionals in their fields and they still do music."

Ahwatukee Foothills resident and member of the Kyrene Music and Fine Arts Association Suzanne Whitaker will be donating up to $500 worth of an in-home mural to be sold at silent auction for the event.

"We all know everybody is cutting and things get tense about the arts," said Whitaker, who runs Passion for Murals. "It's disheartening to see. If we can help with the morale with parents and community, that's what we want to do."

There are other benefits to encouraging interest in the arts, she said.

"Art produces creative thinkers and it produces confidence," Whitaker said. "I think that so often we are so science and math driven. These things are good, but as a society we are driven on black and white thinking and what gets lost is the creative and new ways of thinking. The thinking outside of the box."

Arts Jam takes place Friday, March 2, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Mountain Pointe High School, 4201 E. Knox Road. To find out more, contact Doering at For more of Whitaker's work, visit For more information on Arts Jam, go to

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