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San Luis Obispo’s colorful street painting festival canceled

Eddie Santana works on his chalk painting “Firey Mermaid” at via dei Colori SLO in downtown San Luis Obispo in 2014. His Yorkshire terrier, Molly, looks on.
Eddie Santana works on his chalk painting “Firey Mermaid” at via dei Colori SLO in downtown San Luis Obispo in 2014. His Yorkshire terrier, Molly, looks on. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

A popular Italian-style street painting festival that has been an annual fixture for more than two decades will not return to downtown San Luis Obispo this fall.

Via dei Colori SLO, which is presented by the American Institute of Architects Central Coast Chapter and the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum, traditionally features dozens of artists creating large chalk paintings in and around Mission Plaza every September.

However, this year’s festival has been canceled, AIACCC spokesman Micah Smith confirmed Thursday.

Smith would not say why via dei Colori SLO was canceled. Nor would he say whether the event, which would have celebrated its 25th anniversary in September, will return next year.

Instead, he pointed to a statement on the via dei Colori website credited to AIACCC Board President Andrew Goodwin and the architects’ organization’s board of directors.

In it, Goodwin wrote “it takes a tremendous endeavor to organize and staff” via dei Colori SLO.

“The proceeds generated in recent years have been less than we would hope, considering the amazing effort put forth by a small yet extremely dedicated group of individuals,” he added.

Smith would not say how much the street painting festival has raised on an annual basis.

AIACCC has sponsored an Italian street painting festival for 15 years.

Once known as the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival, via dei Colori got its new name — meaning “street of colors” in Italian — in 2014 when the architects’ organization cut ties with longtime partner, the Children’s Creative Project. (That nonprofit organization, part of the Santa Barbara County Education Office, has hosted a similar festival in Santa Barbara for 30 years.)

“This break from a wonderful San Luis Obispo tradition will allow us to consider alternatives for our scholarship fundraising effort going forward,” Goodwin wrote in the statement.

According to AIACCC Scholarship Director Scott Mann, the group gave $1,000 this summer to an architecture and engineering class at Cayucos Elementary School for seventh- and eight-graders.

The nonprofit group will send out scholarship applications to local public school teachers in September, Mann said.

For more information, visit www.aiacentralcoast.org.

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