Season's Givings: Venice Program Gives Kids Access to the Arts

The non-profit Venice Arts gives children from low-income families in the Venice area the chance to learn photography, filmmaking and graphic arts from professionals.

Brian Watt: With Season's Givings, I'm Brian Watt. Venice Arts gives kids from low-income families in the Venice area the chance to learn photography, filmmaking, and graphic arts from the pros. The non-profit provides equipment and volunteer mentors. Pablo Toledo is the education director.

Pablo Toledo: One of our goals is to provide kids the training to be able to look at their world differently through their art. So most of their projects really originate from their own world, whether it be their families, their friends, or some of their experiences. And that finds itself onto their canvases, or in their comic books, or in their films.

Watt: Joe Northrup is a freelance producer on TLC's "Flip That House" and other shows. On Saturdays, he's a Venice Arts volunteer. He teaches high school and junior high kids how to make movies.

Joe Northrup: We've had kids doing projects about graffiti, and trying to explain through their film whether it's an art form or a crime. And it ranges from that, simple things like that, to topics like teen pregnancy and marriage.

Watt: Northrup started volunteering 2 years ago. Most of the kids he started with are still in his class.

Northrup: These kids really didn't know much about filmmaking. They were just kind of trying out new things, finding new ways to express themselves, and I've seen a lot of the kids here really develop a passion for the filmmaking. I've definitely seen a huge change just in their level of professionalism.

Watt: Pablo Toledo says Venice Arts needs volunteer photographers, filmmakers, graphic designers, and animators.

Toledo: We know that everyone's busy and everyone has a lot of commitments, especially in this city, but by and large at the end of every session, all the mentors say, "Wow, that was fast. You know, I didn't realize that we were ready to break for the holidays, or, you know, that the show's coming up," because, you know, they get so entrenched in the actual relationships with the kids. And it's pretty amazing to see that really grow and unfold.