Utah's Very Special Arts Festival is scheduled for Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., in the Olpin Union Ballroom at the University of Utah. Exhibits and activities will involve about 100 young artists, according to Barbara Pioli, executive director of Very Special Arts Utah. Students from as far away as Price and Layton will attend.
"The arts are learning tools that build self-esteem, communication and socializing skills among the handicapped," said Pioli, "and the festival is a platform to show what the handicapped can do, leading to integration with the non-handicapped." She invites the public to join in the fun and experience the arts. Admission is free.Activities begin with registration from 8:30 to 9 a.m., and hands-on workshops in arts and crafts will run continuously from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Among workshop subjects are button making, face painting, marionette puppets and other puppetry, photography, clay, folk dance, Orff music, psaltery and visual art.
The Kids on the Block, puppeteers whose puppets are handicapped and deal with problems of adjustment and acceptance in a lively way, will perform at 9:30 and again at 1:30. Festival performance will take place from 10:30 to noon, when a luncheon will be served. (Price is $5.50, with reservations to be made by April 26 by calling 484-2888.)
Trevor Cushman, general manager of Ballet West will be keynote speaker at the luncheon, and awards will be given to three handicapped Utahns Carla Gourdin, Heather Horman and Dirk Douglass.
Gourdin, who was disabled by a trampoline accident at age 14, has since earned a B.A. from BYU in 1980 and is now studying computer programming. She began painting in 1975, also does wood carving, leather work, lithographs and small sculptures, and has shown at many shows. Some of her work will be on display.
Horman is profoundly deaf but reads lips very well and is an active junior at Olympus High. With a flair for dramatics, Horman started acting at the age of 5 and has been at it ever since, including the past three summers at the U. of U.'s Theater School for Youth. She will perform a scene she has adapted from "Children of a Lesser God."
Douglass, wheelchair bound since breaking his neck in skiing competition, has become a successful professional photographer, with a large clientele and wide range of subjects.
His portfolio and several posters will be displayed.
"Many handicapped persons have developed their talents remarkably, but they, and particularly handicapped children, need role models such as these to look up to," said Pioli.
The Alexander Graham Bell Writing Awards will also be given out. First place winners are Michael See-ley, Layton High, and Sheree Whi-taker, Rosecrest Elementary, West Valley. Second place rankings go to Kirk Bischoff, Farmington Junior High, Wendy Sanderson of Cottonwood High and two students of Lake-ridge Junior High, Navo Carrillo of Provo and Natt Sperry of Springville, with honorable mention to Heather Barber, Heber, also Lake-ridge.
The awards encourage students to improve writing skills, which are often lacking in deaf persons, and participation in this competition has doubled since last year, said Pioli.
Art from the professional as well as the amateur handicapped artist will be on display, and a purchase prize will be given to a jury-selected work. Among festival performers will be pupils from Price, and White-sides Elementary School in Layton, who have been working on creative dance with Lynn Walter Topovski.
Also performing are the East Mill-creek Singers, 24 blind youngsters in K-3 grades. The Sunset Dancers, veterans of many Utah performances, will also perform, directed by Anne Riordan.
"There are 120,000 handicapped individuals in Utah, and during the past year we served only 3,000 of them," said Pioli, "but we are growing. In our first year, 1984, we had two festivals and contacted 500 handicapped, mostly for just an hour apiece. We knew we needed deeper and more meaningful contacts, which we have been getting by working on the local level."
VSA's long range plan calls for analyzing the state to see where concentrations of handicapped are, then networking with social services, vocational rehabilitation and department of education divisions to increase the offering of services and mainstreaming of handicapped.