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Vans: Committed to Helping Visual Art in Schools

Generating $50,000 for the winning school’s art program while simultaneously drawing attention to the importance of art as an integral part of a well-rounded education, Vans Custom Culture comes back in its fourth iteration with registration opening on January 2, 2013:

The Vans Custom Culture Competition sparks the creativity and teamwork of art students across the country as they work together to design blank pairs of canvas shoes into wearable pieces of art.

Shoes are sent out in the month of February to the first 1,500 U.S.-based public or private high schools that register and students have until April 5 to complete the shoes and submit their images online.

Each registered school receives four blank canvas shoes they must design using the following themes: art, music, action sports, and local flavor—a design inspired by the surrounding community, city, or state.

An internal selection narrows the field down to 50 participants and the external online public vote whittles those 50 schools down to a group of five finalists who will be flown to New York City for the final judging in June 2013.

The winning school receives a $50,000 prize for their art program and the opportunity for the shoes to be produced and sold in Vans’ retail stores. The remaining schools won’t go home empty handed—the four runners-up will receive a cash prize of $4,000 towards their art program.

Vans Custom Culture was initially developed as a forum for students to showcase their artwork and create a multimedia exhibition space while providing students with a different way of thinking about art. From the beginning, it was important to offer the students a fresh perspective of art synthesizing design, fashion, and function with a contemporary identity that gave them a unique outlet for expression.

The team at Vans is passionate about the contest and fully understands what it means to the art classrooms who participate every year.

“In a time when schools are faced with shrinking budgets, art education is an often overlooked discipline,” said Doug Palladini, vice president of marketing for Vans. “Supporting creative expression through art and design is very important to all of us at Vans and the Custom Culture program should inspire young art students and draw attention to the importance of high school art programs nationwide.”

The 2012 finalists were flown out to Los Angeles for three days of activities including a barbeque and tour at Vans Headquarters, interactive mural making, and a downtown walking graffiti tour. The competition concluded with a star studded event at the Long Beach Museum of Art where the winning school was announced.

Celebrity judges included actress AnnaLynne McCord (The CW’s 90210); designer, television host, and author Whitney Port; skate legend Tony Alva; musician Jordan Buckley of Every Time I Die; and tattoo artist Oliver Peck (Spike TV’s Ink Master).

As Vans Custom Culture’s national charity partner in 2013, Americans for the Arts is proud to work closely with Vans to reinforce the importance of arts education in schools across the country. Check out the Vans Custom Culture site for more information and be sure to register your school online in January!

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