NORMAN — Hundreds of sweet lovers stuffed themselves full of chocolate Saturday during the 31st annual Firehouse Art Center Chocolate Festival. But this indulgence came guilt-free: It was for a good cause.
The event, held this year at the National Center for Employee Development, is the Firehouse’s only fundraiser. All proceeds benefit the Firehouse’s children and adult art education programs.
For Firehouse Executive Director Douglas Shaw Elder, the event — which attracted individuals like state Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman — is evidence that the arts are alive and thriving.
“With the defeat of HB 1895, it is just amazing to me to see and witness our city council and our state representatives here today supporting arts and arts education in Norman,” Elder said about the recent bill that threatened to eliminate funding to the Oklahoma Arts Council.
The event allowed attendees to enjoy chocolate samples provided by area restaurants, shops and bakeries.
Amidst the vendor stands, the Firehouse provided a children’s art activities center. Firehouse faculty and University of Oklahoma fine art students provided children hands-on assistance to create various, free works.
Activities included foil sculpting and the “Creative Cube” painting project for children. Parents of children who participated in the “Creative Cube” project are encouraged to post photos of their child’s cube to the Firehouse’s Facebook page. The most “liked” cubes will win one of three Firehouse scholarships in each age group.
Jane Lawson, arts educator at the Firehouse, said they helped approximately 70 children complete art projects during the festival.
“It helps them problem solve,” Lawson said. “It gives them a way to express themselves.”
Josie Vitiello, Norman resident in attendance at the festival, sat with her 3-year-old daughter, Bella, as she completed a “Creative Cube” project.
Vitiello said she is happy to support the arts and wants her daughter to attain an arts education — something Vitiello said will help her become a more well-rounded, open-minded person.