On Saturday April 29, Virginia Avenue Park and the Pico Branch Library will be hosting the 3rd Annual Arts & Literacy Festival.

The festival promotes the Cradle to Career (C2C) Kindergarten Readiness Campaign. The campaign is meant to ensure that every child within the community has the ability to learn and thrive.

“The Arts & Literacy Festival targets families with children from birth to ages five and older with a special emphasis on getting ready for Kindergarten. The Festival gives families the opportunity to see the many ways that young children learn and explore,” said Patti Oblath, Executive Director at Connections for Children.

Oblath explains that over the past five years Santa Monica has collected data about children’s readiness for Kindergarten. The trends are positive, however each year about 18% of children are vulnerable in one or more of the domains of childhood development.

“One of the goals of Cradle to Career is to turn the curve for vulnerable children and families providing the resources to close the learning gap,” said Oblath.

The event will feature a wide variety of interactive activities for children and families. Children will have the opportunity to get active with the Santa Monica Police Department as well as the Fire Department. They can swap a book, make a book, or write a book.

“The Arts & Literacy Festival is a great community based way to share resources and make learning fun for all ages,” said Oblath.

The event takes place at Virginia Avenue Park on April 29, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The Pico Neighborhood fun doesn’t stop there.

On Saturday, April 29, 18th Street Arts Center is inviting the City to celebrate the cultural treasures of the Pico Neighborhood.

18SAC will be hosting a Pico Block Party on Saturday to unveil their latest Pico centered work. The largest artistic residency program in Southern California will celebrate the cultural treasures within the Pico Neighborhood by launching their new CulturalMapping90404 program.

“We have mounted an exhibition that functions as an overview and window in to some of this rich history, so that the public can discover how to use the map and everything it holds,” said Sue Yank, 18th Street Art Center, Director of Communications and Outreach. “There are also so many amazing performers, artists, artisans, and community service groups we have come across that we wanted to showcase their talents and the amazing work they do to our wider audiences.”

18 SAC will be opening up their campus will unveil their Culture Mapping 90404 system, showing members of the community how the website of Pico neighborhood works.

As an arts organization, Yank feels it is their mission to provoke public dialogue through contemporary art, and to recognize and acknowledge how artists contribute to a healthy, and vibrant society.

The community will be able to see the hidden gems of the neighborhood, with an exhibition celebration, along with music and open artists studios.

There will be original salsa and Latin music by Flaco. Lowriders will be driving through making a pit stop at the 18th St Parking lot. The event will feature family art making workshops with Sherin Guirguia and Nina Waisman.

“We believe that conversations about culture and what it means in our lives ultimately strengthens our community of artists and neighbors,” said Yank.

The block party is located at 1639 18th St. and begins at 1 p.m. and goes to 5 p.m.