PORTAGE PARK — A Far Northwest Side performing arts elementary school is celebrating student artwork all week with the return of its popular arts festival.
The annual Festival of the Arts at Portage Park Elementary, 5330 W. Berteau Ave., is back after losing two years due to the pandemic.
The school, which offers classes in drama, music, dance and visual arts, usually puts on the festival at the end of every academic year to showcase different work from all grade levels.
To kick off the public event, teachers extended this year’s edition to four days.
“Our festival has always been one day, where we pack all the fun, arts, activities, and food into one day — but this year we are stretching it out,” said Alex Whitman, an arts teacher at the school who started the festival nine years ago. “All the arts deserve the time, attention and space.”
The Festival of the Arts begins 5-7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday on the first floor of the school. The public is invited to attend all of the events except for Tuesday’s theater performance of “Tinker Bell,” which is for students only. It was scheduled to be performed last fall but was never shown because of COVID, Whitman said.
Admission tickets are $5 for adults and free for kids and teens. All of the proceeds will benefit the school’s art department. Concessions will be available each night, and there also will be a raffle with items from local businesses like gift cards, tickets to a Filament Theatre show, arts memberships and more.
Each evening will highlight a different artform: Tuesday will be theater; Wednesday will be music; Thursday will feature dance; and Friday will feature visual arts — Whitman’s “pride and joy,” she said.
“All of the artworks will be up as a gallery walk,” she said.
The visual arts night will also host arts activities like face painting, coaster creation and more, she said.
There will also be a section of the event for parents to see art-integrated works teachers have been using in their classrooms.
Whitman said the fest is a time for students to shine and for the public to get a glimpse of what goes on inside the school. It’s also an opportunity for prospective parents to learn more about the school’s art programs, meet teachers and make connections.
“It’s more than just the feeling you get when you are there and surrounded by so much art … it’s [seeing] so many kids freely able to express themselves,” she said. “This is their week to shine. It truly feels that way.”
The school is looking for volunteers to help set up the art show, manage the concessions, usher attendees and help clean up. Those interested can sign up online.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: