Darren Sarno and Noah Brittain, founders and owners of A Makebelieve Company (AMBC), are on a mission to bring arts and music education back into Maui County’s public schools. With many local elementary schools nixing arts programs due to funding woes, the grassroots initiative “Save the Arts” aims to put volunteers from the island’s talented pool of musicians, painters, sculptors and culinary artists into classrooms to interact with keiki and share their creative mana‘o.
AMBC has made waves in the local fashion scene, hosting a series of line launches and release parties with their locally designed, printed and distributed apparel for both men and women. Sarno, a friend of Brittain from their work in the service industry, encouraged the development of Brittain’s artwork and the AMBC line, which had been brewing for years. “I knew he had a really good concept,” says Sarno. “I saw it and I really believed in it.” Sarno joined forces with Brittain and AMBC was officially born.
“Save the Arts” has already garnered support from upwards of two dozen local stars—verbal commitments from the likes of Willie K, Tom Conway, Ryan Robinson, Erin Smith, A Kettle Prime, Murray Thorne, chef Brian Etheridge and sculptor Dale Zarrella. Saturday’s event at Mulligan’s on the Blue is designed to raise awareness and serve as a call to other artists in the community.
After speaking with principals and a slew of educators, Sarno estimates that 90 percent of schools have done away with their arts programs. Discovering how widespread the issue is inspired him to expand the scope of the benefit to include all schools.
Their plan is to reach out to three to five schools monthly, with two to three volunteers at each school. Long term, they’re working to acquire non-profit status and to get programs permanently reinstated.
Though the program is still in the early stages, this kick-off benefit party is bringing in the big guns with headliner The Willie K Band, The Celtic Tigers with special guest Erin Smith, Gail Swanson and the last public appearance on Maui by A Kettle Prime. A portion of the ticket sale proceeds ($15 advance, $20 a the door) will benefit the program—to buy supplies for the classrooms and gas for the volunteers—and 100 percent of profits from sales of the event T-shirts ($15) are also dedicated to the fund (and the first 50 guests through the door get the event shirt for free).
AMBC will also have an onsite merchandise stand, with $2 from every shirt sold to be channeled back into the program to keep it going. Maui Time Weekly
“Save the Arts” Benefit
When: Saturday, Sept. 5
Where: Mulligan’s on the Blue
Who: The Willie K Band, The Celtic Tigers feat. Erin Smith & More
Tickets: $15 Advance/$20 door, 874-1131