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Peninsula Celebrates A Decade of Arts

The 10th Annual Diamond Awards recognized nine people and organizations advancing the arts in San Mateo County.

Peninsula art lovers, educators and creators gathered Thursday night in recognition of nine individuals moving art forward in San Mateo County during the Peninsula Arts Council’s 10th Annual Diamond Awards.

At the historic nestled in the hills of Burlingame, attendees celebrated the arts through recognizing artists, art educators, art volunteers and art organizations. The nine award recipients were narrowed down from a field of 55.

In a letter read by Music at Kohl’s Patricia Kristof Moy, Congresswoman Jackie Speier wrote, “I’m pleased that you’re gathered to celebrate outstanding artists and their work…[The Peninsula Arts Council’s] mission to advance art in San Mateo County reminds us everyday that art is an integral part of the community.”

Speier wrote of the importance of arts in education and its ability to improve student understanding and motivation in all areas of study, a sentiment echoed throughout the night by many award recipients.

Denise Schackleton of Art in Action, receiving the award for Arts Organization, spoke of the difficulty in proving the impact art has on children, especially as arts programs are so often on the chopping block. Art in Action brings volunteers into classrooms for arts education. What started as a small non-profit in San Mateo County has grown to reach children in 25 states.

Highlights of the ceremony included a performance by the Burlingame Honors Chorale and the performance of Ray Lorenzato Young Artist award winner Julia Belanoff’s song “Goodnight San Francisco.” The video for her first single already has nearly 3,000 views on YouTube.

Another highlight was keynote speaker Russell Hancock, President and Chief Executive Officer of Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network, who spoke of how life-changing art can be.

“[You’re] boosters, champions and lovers of art, and you’ve made the world a better place,” Hancock said.  “San Mateo County…is a place where the cultural arts are recognized and celebrated and understood to be a gift without a price.”

Hancock, a concert pianist, summed up his feelings on art through telling the story of preparing to play a particularly difficult piece of music. He lamented to his mother about how his hundreds of hours of practice would culminate in only a 30-minute performance. His mother reminded him that art is not about the payoff, but the experience.

“Art is something you do because you can’t help yourself,” she told him. The performance reminded him of art’s ability to unite people over time and space, connecting generations.

Bonny Zanardi, award recipient for Arts Volunteer, best summarized the night.

“It seemed like all the attention was going to San Francisco and San Jose [so] I have worked to shine the lights on the wonderful things happening here,” she said. “This room tonight is full of people who are very inspiring.”

The Peninsula Arts Council is a volunteer-run organization aimed at advancing the arts in San Mateo County through education, public art and developing San Mateo County as a destination for the arts.

Diamond Award Winners:

  • Art in Action, Arts Organization
  • Troy Paiva, Individual Artist
  • Julia Belanoff, Ray Lorenzato Young Artist
  • Bonny Zanardi, Arts Volunteer
  • San Mateo Daily Journal, Local Business Support
  • Francesca Eastman, Donor Support

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