Art & Culture

Nonprofit aims to give youth a voice through the arts

Audacity Performing Arts Project workshops blend with technology and social media.
Audacity Opening annoucement

The children of San Benito County will have a new opportunity to express their creativity as the Silicon Valley-based nonprofit Audacity Performing Arts Project opens its doors in Hollister, offering instruction in music, dance, arts and crafts, theater and film. 

Under the direction of Audacity executive director Rosalinda Sanchez, students will also have access to a fully equipped podcasting and recording studio and opportunities to learn by watching the working methods of regularly scheduled artists-in-residence. 

“Our programming is essentially the arts at the intersection of technology,” Sanchez said. “We did research during the quarantine and discovered that the Silicon Valley population of Latinos is about 30%, but we only capture 3 to 5 percent of the Silicon Valley tech jobs. We want to give kids the opportunity to explore and experiment with different technologies that might give them an idea about careers they can shoot for.”

The grand opening will be held on Feb. 4 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 350 Sixth Street, Suite 102, which is the location previously occupied by the California Academy of Novel and Traditional Arts, a studio with a similar focus that closed at the end of 2022.

Audacity has already begun offering classes in ukulele and dance in advance of their opening, and plans to include classes exploring other performing arts.

“We will slowly add more classes and have plans for ballet, hip hop and folklorico dance,” said Sanchez, who is also a Hollister Art and Culture commissioner. “We are also going to have a variety of teaching artists who will be doing workshops, such as Mike McGee, who was previously Santa Clara County’s poet laureate. We’re starting out with a limited offering, but we will build as we go along.”

Jennifer Laine, of the San Benito Arts Council, said she’s pleased about Audacity’s arrival. 

“We could not be happier that new programs are opening up in San Benito County and it’s great to see Rosalinda taking things up to the next level,” she said. “It’s great to see more opportunities being made available in the performing arts, especially from an organization that’s been involved in culturally responsive education.”

Audacity’s first artist in residence is Hollister native Ray Orabuena, an Iraq War veteran known in town for the murals he has painted, and his organizing of a work honoring veterans with a 105-foot-long mural on the Park Hill retaining wall.

“The program is designed to help an artist by providing them with an area where they can work,” said Sanchez. “They will have all of their tools available in a quiet space that’s conducive to creating their art.”

The enclosed space has a large window through which Audacity students can watch artists at work without interfering with their progress.

Audacity has a complete podcasting studio, which is of particular interest to Sanchez, as she is working to develop an instructional program with local broadcasters.

“Podcasting is not primarily utilized by people of color, especially by youth in underserved neighborhoods,” Sanchez said. “So we’re talking about students who typically do not even know they have a voice. And one thing about social media podcasting is that it gives them a platform they can use to express themselves to the community. We want to give them the right tools to be able to do it.”

After the youth programs are established, Audacity will also offer instruction for adults who are interested in acting as instructors as well.

“We will be hosting something that’s called Teaching Artist University,” she said. “We will take artists of any age, and during a four-week intensive course, we can show them how to be teaching artists so they can take their discipline and they can share it with students in the classrooms.”

At publishing time, Sanchez had not finalized the pricing for classes at Audacity, but they will be available at the grand opening.

“We want to make it absolutely accessible to the community,” Sanchez said, “so we are going to take a very conservative approach to our pricing, and we’ll add scholarship offerings as well. We want to have very open doors to anyone who wants to come here.” 


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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.