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Peach Blossom Festival goes virtual

A time-honored tradition in the Central Valley for over 60 years is rolling with the pandemic punches and going virtual this year. Fresno State knows the importance of exposure to higher education and public speaking at an early age. For 62 years, Fresno State has done its part in cultivating this exposure for Central Valley’s elementary-aged children.

Organizers canceled the 2020 Peach Blossom Festival one day before children from all over the Valley were scheduled to visit the campus to perform selections of poetry and literature. The cancellation was a necessary step to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but was painfully disappointing to thousands of local kids, teachers and parents.

This year, Fresno State brings the Peach Blossom Festival back to these resilient students on March 25-26, entirely online. Fresno State student organizers have built a new website to feature performance submissions from individual students, entire classes, siblings who learn from home and other performance combinations. The event directors have waived all registration fees so any student with a heart for literature and performance can participate and be recognized regardless of socioeconomic status or situation.

The Peach Blossom Festival typically welcomes over 5,000 students to Fresno State each Spring, bringing thousands of parents and supporters with them. Organizers say keeping this festival alive is vital because it grants inside access to a university for many rural students with no college background or other opportunity to connect to higher education. The interactions and positive experiences shared between the Valley’s youth and Fresno State’s students, faculty and athletes are invaluable.

“Peach Blossom is one of those Fresno events that so many of us — college students, teachers and parents — participated in when we were children and of which we have very fond memories still. It’s an event that’s been around for more than sixty years, and one that we want to be able to protect for sixty more,” said Elise Barba, co-director of this year’s Peach Blossom Festival. “We want today’s kids to grow up with the memories that we have of performing for Fresno State’s Peach Blossom Festival. We’re aren’t sitting this year out – we’re here, we’re working, and we’re prepared and excited to welcome students to the event in a virtual format this year.”

The Festival is co-directed by Communication Department faculty members Christina Wells and Elise Barba. For more information, contact Trent Cross, community outreach lead, at 559.286.7433 or Barba at 559.916.2257.

CSU art museums and galleries announce virtual event series

The newly-formed ConSortiUm, a collaborative project of art museums and galleries from the California State University system, will host a virtual event series that actively engages students, faculty, staff and communities through visual arts-based dialogue.

The inaugural program, PLATFORM, will launch in September and include six live virtual conversations with contemporary artists, collectives and curators whose work re-imagines the art world and the world at large.

All events will be presented live via Zoom with access for all CSU campuses. Recordings of the events will be available for post-live stream viewing and archived by the sponsoring institutions. These events are free and open to the public.

Spring 2021 virtual events will include the Oakland-based People’s Kitchen Collective; Valerie Cassel Oliver, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; and other participants to be announced.

ConSortiUm said it recognizes CSU students are integral to creating a new future, and is therefore committed to providing access to a multiplicity of voices and inspiration as students discover and nurture their own agency. The CSU system represents the largest public four-year college system in the country, with more than 480,000 students enrolled at 23 campuses. ConSortiUm formed when CSU announced remote teaching would continue through the end of 2020. ConSortiUm members are dedicated to supporting students, artists and their campuses’ surrounding communities during the pandemic, while also responding to the pressing demand for an end to systemic and overt racism in California and beyond.

ConSortiUm’s participating CSU art museums and galleries include venues at campuses in Bakersfield, Todd Madigan Gallery; Chico, Janet Turner Print Museum; East Bay, University Art Gallery; Fresno, Center for Creativity and the Arts; Fullerton, Nicholas & Lee Begovich Gallery and Grand Central Art Center; Humboldt, Reese Bullen Gallery and Goudi’ni Native American Arts Gallery; Long Beach, School of Art and Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum; Los Angeles, Luckman Gallery, Luckman Fine Arts Complex; Northridge, Art Galleries; Pomona, W. Keith & Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery and Don B. Huntley Gallery; Sacramento, University Galleries; San Bernardino, Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art; San Diego, University Art Galleries; San Francisco, Fine Arts Gallery; San Jose, Natalie and James Thompson Gallery; San Luis Obispo, University Art Gallery; Sonoma, University Art Gallery; and Stanislaus, University Art Gallery and Stan State Art Space.

See all Fresno State press releases at www.fresnostatenews.com.

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