Bellas Artes is an innovative fine-arts school for low-income children in Guaymas, a city in the Sonora, Mexico. Established by Brother Ivo Toneck, OFM, in 1996, the school reaches out to children from poor and marginalized families, educating them in both classical music and the traditional dance and music of the region.
Bellas Artes had humble beginnings. It began with a mariachi group of 22 youngsters from around Guaymas. After much practice (and fundraising), this troop went on a three-week tour to Europe, performing throughout Switzerland and Italy. The highlight of the trip was their performance at the Vatican, when Pope John Paul II joined them on stage and sang with them. It was a performance broadcast throughout the world.
Upon returning from the trip, Brother Ivo was able to raise enough funds to acquire a building, which he converted into a school for the performing arts: Bellas Artes. At Bellas Artes, children learn to read music and tune their own instruments, as well as receive instruction in traditional song and dance. The school also hosts a television station that broadcasts local news events.
The children at the school work hard so they can go onto college and pursue their dreams. Bellas Artes has truly become a beacon of hope for the people of Guaymas, touching many lives and ensuring that the traditional performing arts of the region will not be forgotten.