Mario Barela has been a dedicated Professional Teaching Artist for Free Arts since 2008. He has contributed both his time and talent to reach the children of Free Arts partner agencies, even in a time of social distancing and mask mandates.
Mario began his journey with Free Arts as an addition to our Professional Artist Series program 14 years ago. His enthusiastic love for musical arts and Latin dance was the force that connected Mario to the mission of Free Arts.
When Mario began thinking of new ideas to engage children in music, he decided to purchase several inexpensive 5 gallon industrial buckets from a local hardware store, grabbed some drumsticks, and then his popular workshop “Buckets of Fun” was born. Mario is an experienced professional musician with a busy schedule. He still manages to find the time to make space with the children that Free Arts serves to makes music, memories, and connections that teach the necessary skills to reach resilience. Mario says that he has always been drawn to music to get through some challenging chapters in his own life, and seeing the children engage in music and become inspired is his way of giving back to the youth in the community.
When Mario was asked what causes him to continue working with Free Arts, he said “I support Free Arts programs because I have the ability to interact with children that might not typically be able to access various art experiences. This makes Free Arts unique since they can connect me and my art form to children that may never have been exposed to these things. I am very glad to have the ability to continue sharing my love for music with children.”
Mario Barela embodies the values we hold true at Free Arts with his innovation, bravery, creativity, and willingness to make connections that support children’s individuality, growth, and healing from trauma.