NEW TIMES: How did I Madonnari get its start in San Luis Obispo?
DETTMER: The first I Madonnari that took place was in 1992; however, the I Madonnari didn’t get its start on the West Coast until it spread its popularity from Santa Barbara. The first I Madonnari took place in Santa Barbara in 1987, and it was the first festival of its kind in North America. It was created by Children’s Creative Project of Santa Barbara County Education Office. The executive director, Kathy Koury, wanted to bring the famous street paintings of Italy to the Central Coast. The popularity of I Madonnari has grown throughout the state of California, being hosted in many different counties aside from our own; however, the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo I Madonnari are the most famous and well known of the festivals.
NEW TIMES: How did the Children’s Creative Project get involved with I Madonnari?
DETTMER: Well, when the I Madonnari started in Santa Barbara, and later in San Luis Obispo, it was not only to bring an event like this to the West Coast, but it was also a way where we could raise money for children within the area in order to provide them the resources needed to keep art classes and projects alive within schools. As many might be aware, the arts and music are some of the first subjects that get cut from schools as a result of budget cuts, so we provide squares for groups of locals and businesses to purchase so we can raise enough money to help further children’s interest and passion for the arts.