activities 4 all mariachi band
A mariachi band for young people is among the many programs of Activities 4 All. Contributed photo

The community is invited to attend the Celebration of Arts and Culture on Sept. 16 at 7pm at the Henry J. Mello Center for the Performing Arts. Presented by Activities 4 All, Ballet Folklórico Ollin, Esperanza del Valle, Estrellas de Esperanza, Grupo Folklórico Los Cocuyos and the White Hawk Indian Council for Children, this event is a fundraiser for the Watsonville Center for the Arts.

We spoke with Jose Camacho, executive director of Activities 4 All, about the event, the Watsonville Center for the Arts, and his dedication to youth and their families.

What will people experience at the Celebration of Arts and Culture?

The community will feel the beauty of how we’ve all been working together to put on this event. They will see the cultural diversity that exists within the Mexican culture. People of all ages will perform—mariachi music, folklórico, Aztec dances and more. It will be like a music and dance history of Mexico. It’s a family-friendly, affordable fundraiser for the Watsonville Center for the Arts, where each group teaches classes and rehearses. We’re raising money to replace the dance floor in the main rehearsal room. It’s a way to support the center that supports us. 

What is Activities 4 All’s connection with the Watsonville Center for the Arts?

We teach mariachi and folklórico dancing there every week. About 80 people come there to learn, and then they can practice at home. Whole families come. When they participate together, it is even better. Most people come through registering for Activities4All at Mintie White Elementary, but others come from Salinas to participate in what we do at the Center. Everyone is welcome! We invite people to observe and then sign up for classes if they like. 

Activities 4 All is also part of the Arts Council’s Elevate Grant cohort (a three-year organizational development program), which meets in the Center. For me, it’s a dream to join together and listen to the ideas of each organization. Janet Johns of Esperanza del Valle was my mentor when I started as a teacher. And now we’re peers and partners! We’re all trying to support specific groups, and we can connect them to other organizations that can offer them something else. It’s not a competition—we work together. 

What is Activities 4 All, and what inspired you to start it?

Activities 4 All promotes family-oriented values to strengthen relationships through music, art, soccer and Mexican folkloric dance. We hire experienced teachers and offer families high-quality programs at a low cost. It all started when Santa Cruz County Office of Education Superintendent Faris Sabbah saw me practicing soccer with a group of kids after school. He saw me doing this and suggested I create a nonprofit. And he said he would do all the paperwork! It started because I saw what kids needed. I know how to play the guitar, so I started teaching that, too. I wanted to expand access for all kids to this kind of activity. Twenty years later, here we are. I’m a full-time Kindergarten teacher at Mintie White and a part-time executive director of Activities 4 All. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. Everything is possible with support. I’m grateful for the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, County Office of Education, and Superintendent Sabbah’s continued support. Activities 4 All is trying to improve community members’ lives. It is very important to me. I learn from the community. It nurtures my soul, and I feel thankful. 

Why is being involved in the arts essential for youth?

The arts and any kind of expression come from your soul and heart. To express how you are feeling is very important. It can help you relax. Art is like food. We need it. For youth, the arts can help them value their culture. In my mariachi band, which includes youth ages 5-16, some kids don’t speak Spanish well. They connect to their culture and play an important role in their families through playing music. Youth can explore new interests and engage in something positive.

To learn more about Activities 4 All, visit To attend the Celebration of Arts and Culture, visit Funds raised will be used to replace the floor for dance rehearsals and other repairs resulting from the recent fire hydrant flooding accident. Thanks to Santa Cruz Community Credit Union and the City of Watsonville for sponsoring this event.

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  1. ¡Felicidades! José your dedication and hard hard work is providing these students a wonderful way to share their talents with the community and improve their self esteem. They will never forget you and these great experiences.

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