Houston Via Colori Street Painting Festival would not exist without her leadership and strategy...in fact, she's the reason it even began ten years ago! Natalie Vuckovic, Director of Development at The Center for Hearing and Speech, weighs in on the good, the bad, and the behind-the-scenes of Via Colori the past ten years in part 1 of our two-part series. Enjoy! Natalie.png




1. As you look back on these 10 years, what has been the highlight moment for you personally?

The artists have and will always be the highlight of Via Colori for me.  The way the artistic community has gathered around this festival to support us is surreal.  In my humble opinion, we have some of the best local and national artists in the world, not only because of their talent but also because of their heart.  Our artists put everything they have on that pavement to express themselves through their artistry, and rarely have I heard a complaint (even when they were warranted). Instead they bring their joy and creative spirit to captivate the 25,000 attendees through their performance.


2. How has Via Colori benefited CHS through the years?

Via Colori has made such an enormous impact on CHS.  When I started here 10 years ago it was a worthwhile organization…that very few Houstonians knew about.  Via Colori has changed that, giving us a platform to grow our circle of friends and educate the public about hearing loss (and how to prevent it!).  Even more important, the festival has raised over 2.5 million dollars to help us achieve our mission.  I cannot take any credit for the dramatic growth in programs and clients - that all goes to our hard-working and dedicated professionals - but Via Colori has given them the financial means to bring their ideas to life and ultimately help more children with hearing loss reach their full potential. 


3. What's the craziest, most unexpected thing that has happened at a Via Colori? What year was it?

That is such a tough one!  It seems like there are little things that always pop up but none that I really want to alert the public aboutJ  I guess I will mention the time in 2007 when we had a couple dozen protestors show up at our festival.  I was alarmed to say the least and couldn’t figure out what they were protesting.  Luckily after chatting and letting them know that Via Colori was a festival for a children’s charity they realized they were in the wrong place and went on their merry way - yet still felt it necessary to chant anti-government rhymes while exiting.  


4. How have you seen VC grow and develop? Did you ever guess it would be this large?

I could go on and on about how much we have grown over the last decade but that would bore the readers.  So I will just say that we have come a long, long way from the Via Colori 2006.  Each year we strive to improve the festival experience...and each year we also learn that we are not perfect and there is always more room for more improvementJ   When we began I would never have guessed it would become what it is now, but now I know that through artist, sponsor and community support the sky is the limit - and even then we can build a spaceship and go further.  

Stay tuned later this week for Part 2 of our interview with Natalie!