Kids at the Dairy Fundraiser

The Dairy Arts Center has been a landmark art haven in Boulder County since 1992. Known as a ‘cooperative workspace for local artists’ the 42,000 square foot facility houses all forms of artistic expression—all under one roof.

Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 1.00.10 AM.png

Beyond all of the art mediums The Dairy supports, the center also encourages artists and art enthusiasts of all ages. The Dairy is a place where childhood memories are born. Whether it’s the first time seeing the Nutcracker, a youth workshop involving clay or paint, and even music lessons, these are experiences found in most people’s childhoods. Although for other kiddos—these are just dreams. Which is why the life-changing arts education program Kids at The Dairy was created by Beth Smith in 2014 to support underprivileged and at-risk kids who are not exposed to these cherished experiences that also support a well-rounded education.

(Did you know students who study art are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and three times more likely to be awarded for school attendance?)

Kids at the Dairy provides no-cost access to arts education experience for Title I students. Not only closing the achievement gap but also making access to the arts more available to students who may have not otherwise had the chance.   

Since the program's creation, 1,952 Title l youth have been involved through 39 different programs in collaboration with 19 local artists from varied artistic backgrounds.  

Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 12.59.47 AM.png

Beyond support from The Dairy and local artists, the community has played a significant role in keeping this program alive. Community members like Firuzeh Saidi have joined the cause since its fruition to promote awareness and support of such a crucial program. We sat down with Saidi at her third annual fundraising event hosted at The Dairy, which raised over $______ for the 2018/19 year, to paint a picture of what Kids at the Dairy has successfully achieved over the last four years, and what the future holds.

Can you tell us how Kids at the Dairy first got started?

Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 1.00.37 AM.png

Kids at the Dairy was initially started by Beth Smith who was the Development Director at The Dairy Arts Center for the Arts about five years ago. Bill Obermeier—who was the Executive Director at the time and a very good friend of mine—introduced me to the program. I always enjoy being at the Dairy and have been doing talkbacks at the BOE when they show Iranian movies for many years.


Since the beginning in 2014, you’ve been passionately involved. What sparked your initiative to start the fundraiser for Kids at the Dairy?

I am passionate about education, especially for underprivileged children. I have worked and helped out on many programs in our community including some programs through our Rotary club. I thought Kids at the Diary fills a considerable gap which exists in the lives of kindergartners who go to title 1 schools. What better way to educate young children but with art, dance, and music?

Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 1.12.11 AM.png

What have you learned since getting involved with the program?

I have learned that the experience this program offers is one of the best learning experiences for these children with long-lasting effects.


Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of?

I am just proud that I am bringing more awareness to my friends in the community who are not familiar with this program, or who have not even attended the Dairy Center to know what it all has to offer.


Can you tell us your favorite example of the way you’ve seen this program’s work make a difference?

Pictures…seeing the kids so happy and curious while they are attending the program speaks for itself.

Besides involving 367 at-risk youth in the 2018/2019 year, what do you hope to succeed through this program? What's your end goal?

I never have an end goal because I feel our goals tend to evolve from year to year. One year it may be to engage more schools to participate, another year, it may involve recruiting more local artists in our community to be involved with the program.

How has this changed you?

My involvement has made me more committed to the children in our community. They are the future of our community and the more we invest in them the more we strengthen and make our city a richer place to live.

Why art?

Art is the easiest mean of educating our children. It is a non-competitive and enjoyable way to learn, express, and develop one’s personality.


Lastly, we now know why the community should get involved, but how can the Front Range community get involved?

I think the more the Front Range community embraces and engages in our art institute and the programs like this that are offered to the children—the more the community will benefit as a whole.

Learn more or donate to Kids at the Dairy at TheDairy.org.

kelly ernst