Children’s Creative Project Returns to Mission Santa Barbara with the 38th Annual I Madonnari Street Painting Festival

Children’s Creative Project returns to Mission Santa Barbara with the 38th annual I Madonnari Street Painting Festival (Courtesy)

Celebrating the annual fundraising festival this Memorial Day Weekend with new street paintings, new vendors, and the same bountiful energy

Art enthusiasts from near and far are invited to the 38th I Madonnari Street Painting Festival at the Old Mission Santa Barbara this Memorial Day Weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 25, 26, and 27.

I Madonnari, the first festival of its kind in North America, is produced by and raises vital funding for the Children’s Creative Project (CCP), a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

This year’s featured artist, Emily Lostaunau, began street painting in 1998 when she assisted her sister with a featured painting at the Italian Street Painting Festival in San Rafael. Lostaunau has since participated in our local I Madonnari many times. Lostaunau’s 2024 piece, titled “The Sunday Greys,” is an ode to her three grey stallions that she rides and cares for every Sunday. Lostaunau said of the piece:

Each horse is exceedingly special in his own right: Veloz is a Dressage Grand Prix schoolmaster and epitomizes a strong work ethic and determination. Chupacabra (center) is a multiple world title holder and a model; he is sensitive and kind and everything you would imagine a real-life unicorn to be. Chacal (right) is the do anything, go anywhere horse, full of strength, power, and fierce courage. They will always make you humble and have one more lesson to teach you if you are willing to learn it. I always look forward to my happy mornings with the Sunday Greys. These animals tend to imprint themselves on you. They breathe your troubles in and exhale quiet confidence. 

In addition to celebrating Emily and hundreds of other artists creating beautiful works on the pavement, Children’s Creative Project dedicates this year’s festival to Margie Yahyavi, former Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation who was a champion for education and the arts. “As a dear friend of Children’s Creative Project, we were deeply saddened by her passing and the loss of such a beacon of hope and inspiration,” said Kai Tepper-Jahnke, Executive Director of Children’s Creative Project  “It is an honor to celebrate her legacy and to continue inspiring the next generation of creative thinkers and makers.”

Originally inspired by the International Street Painting Competition in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy, the festival will feature over 140 chalk pastel street paintings drawn live in front of the Old Mission Santa Barbara. Live music and a food market will be available for enjoyment on the Mission lawn throughout the three-day event, with local vendors such as Dave’s Dogs, Elubia’s, and Nimita’s Cuisine, as well as traditional favorites like the much-loved lemon-rosemary roasted chicken, pizza, gelato, and more.

The CCP staff and Board of Directors produce the festival with volunteers from the National Charity League and the Boys Charity League. CCP is grateful to work with the expertise of Eji Event Co. and WA Managment for festival support as well. All proceeds benefit the Children’s Creative Project and its vital arts programs in county public schools.

Music performances include local talents such as Mezcal Martini, The Brasscals, Mark and the Logistics, and exceptional youth performances from several local junior high and high school jazz bands and choirs.

An expanded area for children to create street paintings will be located on the west side of the Mission. Throughout the three-day event, over 600 Kids’ Squares, which include a box of chalk, can be purchased for $15. This year, the festival will be accessible via a new Santa Barbara Trolley Route, with pick-up points at the Visitors Center on Cabrillo Boulevard and the Santa Barbara Public Library Downtown on Anacapa Street.

More information can be found at:

The 2024 I Madonnari festival is made possible by the generosity of many local individuals, foundations, and businesses. The year’s top sponsors include Nora McNeely Hurley and Michael Hurley, Bella Vista Designs, The Berry Man, and Village Properties. Additional sponsors include Santa Barbara Beautiful, Kendall Rhode and Associates, American Riviera Bank, Boys Charity League, COX Communications, Community West Bank, Haagen Printing/Typecraft Inc., KEYT NewsChannel3, Montecito Bank and Trust, National Charity League, Santa Barbara Bowl, and Santa Barbara City College Foundation. Children’s Creative Project gives a special thank you to the  Old Mission Santa Barbara for hosting the 38th annual I Madonnari Festival. The organization also thanks and acknowledges Elly Iverson, Warner Events Management, and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Major sponsorship opportunities are available. More information can be found here:

A final ceremony will take place on Monday, May 27, at 12:00 pm on the Mission steps to introduce and thank our major festival sponsors and featured artist Emily Lostaunau.

About Children’s Creative Project
Children’s Creative Project (CCP) began producing the I Madonnari Festival in 1987 to elevate the arts in the Santa Barbara community while raising much-needed funding for arts education in K-12 schools.

In 2022, Kai Tepper-Jahnke stepped in as the new Executive Director of Children’s Creative Project to take over for CCP founder, Kathy Koury. Tepper-Jahnke, born and raised in Santa Barbara and benefited directly from CCP programs, is a champion for the arts throughout the community and eager to invigorate new opportunities. She is a member of several arts and culture organizations, including the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), where she is Co-Chair of the Asian American History Affinity Group. Her most recent project with the SBHTP included the Year of the Dragon Celebration, which featured a mural by local artist, D.J. Javier and an all-AAPI art show in the Presidio Chapel, which she co-curated with Meiya Sidney. Tepper-Jahnke is honored to continue the legacy of I Madonnari which was created under the vision of Kathy Koury after a visit to Grazie di Curtatone, Italy to experience a street painting competition. Ms. Koury produced the first street painting festival in 1987, which claims to be the first street painting festival in North America. The I Madonnari festival has continued growing and is now replicated in more than 150 cities throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Festival proceeds have enabled the CCP to sponsor fine arts programs conducted by professional artists during school hours for over 50,000 children in county public schools. Resident artists provide visual and performing arts workshops for more than 38,000 children. Fundraising from the I Madonnari festival helps to continue the CCP’s work to support free annual performance events and other activities. To support this program, festival proceeds provide every county public school with a $600 arts credit to help pay for Resident Artists and Touring Artist Performance fees.

For festival photos, more information about the Children’s Creative Project or I Madonnari, or to arrange artist interviews, contact Meredith Ventura at 805-792-3287 or You can also find more information at


Written by SBCEO

Press releases written by the Santa Barbara County Office of Education. Learn more at

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