Milwaukee’s largest all-local music festival — Arte Para Todos (Art for Everyone) — returns at the end of April.
In its third year, the festival hosts nearly 100 Wisconsin musicians who perform at 26 venues over the four-day weekend April 27–30. It tends to program mixed-genre lineups.
The festival was founded in 2015 as a response to underfunding of art and music programs in Milwaukee schools. APT has raised nearly $40,000 in its first two years and brought musicians into local schools for exclusive performances and talkbacks.
Arte Para Todos is an all-volunteer endeavor, with bands, artists and organizers donating time and energy. Each day the festival takes place in a different neighborhoods, encouraging musical discovery and a vibrant atmosphere.
In anticipation of Arte Para Todos, I spoke with several organizers and musicians about what makes APT a unique festival and the importance of exposing youth to art and music programs in school.
WiG: Why did you start Arte Para Todos?
Josh Evert (organizer and musician, The Fatty Acids): A lot of schools are facing this really difficult decision, which is do they cut arts when they have budget shortfalls or do they cut from elsewhere? And a lot of the time, unfortunately, the choice is to cut arts. But what we keep hearing from teachers is that the arts are not expendable.
There are students that really have a tough time with math, science, reading, but they excel in the arts, and once you take that away, that’s cutting them off from any potential for success in a lot of cases. So it’s not fair for the kids and it’s not fair for the teachers that rely on that to keep some of their kids engaged.
What makes APT a special festival?
Amelinda Burich (organizer and musician, Rose of the West, Winter Bear): It’s been amazing that there’s organization happening, but it’s mostly just thanking and saying ‘Yes’ to a whole bunch of people that are really supportive and want to be a part of something. There are all these bands that are willing to play for free — all kinds of genres and all different ages and backgrounds. The venues involved are all different people and they all donated their time and space and I think it’s just an entire community coming together to help another part of the community that’s underserved.
What are some reasons kids should be exposed to music and art?
Josh Evert: I think that the arts are essential for learning empathy. If you can relate to someone else’s music, if you can relate to someone else’s paintings, if you can relate to someone else’s screenplay, then you’ll be able to understand their culture and experience a little bit better, you’ll be able to understand where they’re coming from, and ideally, you’ll be able to empathize with them.
Rory Ferreira (musician, Ruby Yacht): For me, before discovering theater in high school, I really felt like I didn’t have purpose or worth. I’m not a physical person, so sports were really never a big thing for me. And while I’m smart, I’m not really intellectual. I didn’t want to study. For a kid, especially in our society, which is really just preparing you to exploit yourself as labor for money, I just felt lost before getting involved in theater. There I discovered I could speak like other people and adopt a whole new persona. It definitely gave me confidence to go into the world and make a mark on it. It made me want to be something that would be remembered.
Q the Sun (musician, New Age Narcissism): There are a lot of reasons why kids should have access to the arts. And it’s funny to me that we have to keep reminding to ourselves why the arts are important. To me, it’s just so much a part of life, like the overall process of life; human emotion and everything. What’s so exciting about it, is it gives you an opportunity to actually express yourself. It gives you a voice, it gives you an outlet for all types of energy that’s inside of you that would have no other way of coming out.
Christopher Porterfield (musician, Field Report): The arts are the way we discover the world. That’s how we make sense of where we are and what the rest of the world is like. The arts enrich our lives and our experiences. They provide context and make you feel stuff and allow you to do stuff that feels good and meet new people. All those things are so, so important and it goes so far beyond what you can learn in a regular classroom. These things are so, so important.
On the Web
Arte Para Todos is all-volunteer organization supporting art education in Milwaukee schools while celebrating local artists, musicians, venues and the community. For details about the organization or the festival, go online to arteparatodos.me.