Unity Through the Arts

By Noe Gutierrez

According to a recent report by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) (2019), art funding throughout the years has decreased 43.4 percent in the United States.

In its 3rd year, CAMFest is one way the Desert Sands Educational Foundation is answering back to the lack of financial support being provided by state and federal resources. Last year’s event had approximately 7,500 in attendance with over 1,000 student performers. This year’s event will once again take place this Saturday 12/14 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. As host of CAMFest, the DSEF provides several stages featuring performances from both professional musicians and elementary, middle school and high school students from schools throughout Desert Sands Unified School District displaying their talents through art, music, dance, short film, theatre, photography and videography.

Tickets are available on-line up until the day of the event; $10 adult pre-sale ($20 adult at the gate) $3 per child (3-18 yrs.). You can purchase here: officialcamfest.org. Proceeds to benefit children in Desert Sands Arts and Music Programs.


The DSEF secures funding and awards money to provide supplemental resources that enrich and enhance student learning in DSUSD. Proceeds from CAMFest will be used to amplify music and art programs for children in the 34 schools in DSUSD. As stated earlier, funding for the arts is limited in our schools and they must rely on fundraising efforts and grant money. Everyone enjoys music, whether through listening, singing or playing an instrument. The importance of music and art instruction, and its correlation to improved academic performance is well-documented and evidence-based. The community’s support is key in helping to make CAMFest successful and to expand music and art instruction for our children.

All schools in DSUSD, K-12, were invited to participate in this unique event showcasing band, choir, and recorder programs, etc. Student artwork will also be displayed. The CAMFest goal is to have each school

represented. School and informational booths, food vendors, private music teachers, and a holiday raffle will also be featured.

Artist Performance Schedule

Front Gate Entrance

Scott Carter 9:40-10:40 a.m.

Michael Keeth / Quinn Keeth 11-12 p.m.

Michael James 12:20-1:20 p.m.

Courtney Chambers 1:40-2:40 p.m.

Red Main Stage

Kainga Music (Steel Pan) 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

AMP 11-11:30 a.m.

AMP 11:35-12 p.m.

AMP 12:05-12:25 p.m.

Mark Gregg Band 1-2 p.m.

Kevin Henry, Sr. Band 2-3 p.m.

East Goes West Band 3-4 p.m.

We spoke with several of the notable desert musicians performing to ask about their participation.


“I love organizations like Academy of Music Performance (AMP) and CAMFest. More music for the kids is always a good thing. I’ve got a great 7-piece band this year including Misty Howell on vocals, Rob Martinez on bass and vocals, Tony Patler on keys and vocals, Tony Bolivar on sax and flute, Ric Grea on percussion and Mitchem Michael Patrick on drums. I’m looking forward to it. It’s all to promote kids and music. AMP will be performing in several configurations along with local luminaries.”


“Performing at CAMFest has been one of the most fulfilling projects I’ve been asked to be involved in. We professional musicians volunteer our time and artistry to help young, aspiring musicians and artists to progress, improve and perform through combined performances and individual performances. Some young people don’t get opportunities to perform on larger stages at larger events, CAMFest offers that platform. The festival grows larger every year. Now going into year number three, I see nothing but growth and greater opportunities for youthful musicians and artists.”


“I’m honored and excited to play for CAMFest this year. It’s a great organization and I’m thrilled to play a set with my daughter Quinn!”


“The arts are just as important as math and science. It’s incredibly important for our youth to get a well-rounded and complete education and the arts are very much included in that.”


“AMP is excited to participate in the third year of CAMFest. On top of having our three AMP Fall performance bands playing on the Main Stage this year, we’re running a third year of our Music Zoo, with support from Hot Purple Energy, where anyone attending the festival, young and old, can come play the instruments we have set up. Visit us at the AMP Music Zoo all day and catch our AMP bands on the Main Red Stage around 11am!”

Michael James
“The arts are very important to me. It’s a chance to have fun and look forward to studying! I used to practice 18 hours a day! It’s something that can bring joy to the musician working hard and to the person who adores the sounds and performance! It truly is the ‘universal language’. I listen to music from around the world and am floored by what we can create.”