Nonprofit organization Performing Stars was founded in 1990 as a way to provide art, music, theater and other enriching creative experiences for low-income and at-risk children in Marin County.
Now celebrating 30 years of operation, Performing Stars has served over 3,000 children. In that time, over 90-percent of Performing Stars alumni have gone on to graduate from high school. Of that number, at least 50-percent go on to college or trade school and Performing Stars has numerous success stories from alumni who have become teachers and coaches, bankers, retail managers, medical assistants, cosmetologists, actors, a professional ballet dancer, a pastry chef, a videographer, and many other careers.
“When I was a little girl growing up in Georgia, I watched little white girls go off to ballet class and I desperately wished I could go too, but it was unthinkable at that time due to segregation. However, I never let go of that dream, and I wanted to find a way to help other children of color fulfill their own dreams,” writes Performing Stars founder and Executive Director Felecia Gaston. “We at Performing Stars believe that every child deserves to “star” in roles that will help build the self-esteem necessary to face the challenges of successful adulthood.”
This weekend, Performing Stars marks three decades of transforming Marin County youth through the arts with a free streaming 30-Year Anniversary Virtual Gala Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 6pm.
The theme for this year’s virtual event is “Le Cirque des Etoiles (The Circus of the Stars),” and the evening features circus performers, aerialists, magicians, musicians and inspiring speakers, including Performing Stars alumni John Lam(pictured), a San Rafael native who is now acclaimed ballet dancer in Boston. In addition to the video performances, the virtual gala offers auction items including a signed guitar from Carlos Santana and text-to-give opportunities.
All proceeds from these fundraising options will go directly to supporting Performing Stars’ programs. As the nonprofit continues to work in a new world where the Covid-19 pandemic that has made in-person classes and events obsolete, Performing Stars is highlighting how donations can make a difference in the lives of Marin County youth. For example, a $25 donation will buy a pair of dance shoes; a $150 donation can fund after-school and summer enrichment classes for small groups, including field trips, fishing, sailing, and horseback riding; a $250 donation provides for online technology and coding classes; a $500 donation will support six months of music classes for one child, including instruction, transportation, nutritional snacks, chaperone, and more.
“Performing Stars has moved children from being like me, that little girl in Georgia who was forced to be a spectator on the outside looking in, to becoming en- gaged participants on the inside looking out,” writes Gaston. “Performing Stars has evolved into a hugely successful non-profit organization, serving not only children, but their families, communities and the county as well. We have a vision for 2020: we are working on continuing our transition from a small grassroots organization into a broader, stronger entity that can grow and be sustained into future generations.”