By Diane Claytor

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Diablo Ballet’s PEEK Program. Photo: Berenger Zyla

Anyone who follows Diablo Ballet – whether by attending performances, reading this blog, following us on Twitter or Facebook, or simply supporting what the organization represents – knows how important we believe arts education is for all students. It’s part of our mission statement: …enriching, inspiring, enlightening and educating children through the art of dance. It’s part of our stated purpose: promoting and serving community alliances through working with businesses, schools, and other non-profit organizations to enhance the arts and arts education; and supporting youth by using the arts to teach in-school lessons of self-esteem, group process, and, most profoundly, the joy of artistic expression.

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Diablo Ballet’s PEEK Program. Photo: Berenger Zyla

In 1995, Lauren Jonas, Diablo Ballet’s Artistic Director, co-founded the PEEK Program (Performing Arts Education and Enrichment for Kids), bringing the arts to local children, many of whom may never experience the wonders of music and movement or the beauty of the arts in any other way or at any other time. PEEK is the only arts program of its kind offered by a professional dance company in the Bay Area; it provides in school movement, music curriculum and free dance performances to students and families in underserved areas. Since its beginning, more than 65,000 students have been touched by this extraordinary program.

And now, in keeping with our very strong commitment to arts education for all students, Diablo Ballet is supporting the California Arts Council’s new “Keep Arts in Schools” campaign and Voluntary Contribution Fund. And you can too!

KAIS_black_small.2According to the California Arts Council (the agency that oversees the state’s arts grant program), almost a third of California schools have absolutely no music, dance, theatre, media arts or visual arts available. The Council is working to increase arts education statewide by supporting teaching artists in the classroom, incorporating arts into the new “Common Core” teacher instruction, and turning around low performing schools through the arts.

Their “Keep Arts in Schools” program is a very worthwhile endeavor and so easy to both support and participate in. And it’s deductible!

If you’re a California resident getting ready to complete your 2013 income taxes, all you need to do is check the little box on the state tax form that’s labeled “Keep Arts in Schools Fund.” (The “Keep Arts in Schools Fund” can be found in Voluntary Contribution Section 110 (425) of the “540” individual state tax-return form.) You can write in how much you’d like to add to your tax payment or subtract from your refund. And even $1 will be a big help.

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Diablo Ballet’s PEEK Program. Photo: Berenger Zyla

One hundred percent of your tax deductible contribution will go to arts education programming. Every dollar counts – and it’s so important to offer our children music, dance, art and theater, so please join Diablo Ballet and the California Arts Council and “Keep Arts in Schools” through your state tax return!

Diane Claytor, a Chicago native, has spent most of her adult life living in the East Bay and working for several different non-profit organizations. Although admittedly not a dance aficionado, she enjoys all types of music and is probably happiest when she’s plugged into her mp3 player listening to whatever the mood dictates.

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