Riley Smith Youth Music Festival returns for it's 3rd year

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Students in Eastern Iowa will have the chance to get on stage and show off their musical talents in NewBo this weekend.

It's part of the Riley Smith Youth Music Festival, a production the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy in Cedar Rapids has hosted since 2016.

Riley Smith is a singer, actor and Iowa Native who will be returning to Iowa to share the stage with these students.

All the money raised during the Riley Smith Youth Music Festival goes back to the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy.

It helps pay for art supplies, instruments, programs and fund financial aid for students who may not be able to afford art classes.

15-year-old Justin Mason is a student at the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy.

He's been coming here for years and if you head downstairs you can catch him rehearsing with his band.

They're called "Pink Slip" and they'll be playing in this Saturday's concert.

Mason says it was music that really helped him with his ADHD and his depression.

"Music has kind of been a big part of my life because of my depression and I would have anxiety a lot when I would go to school so I would stick my earbuds in my ear and they would help me relax a little bit and get ready for the day," Mason said.

Mason says the academy lets him explore what it's like to be in a band and it also helped him become more social and develop friendships with other students.

But the academy doesn't just have music.

If you walk upstairs you'll notice the walls lined with paint brushes, pencils, and artwork.

Heather Wagner, a director with the academy says all of the art and music they offer has really impacted her students.

"All of a sudden they feel like wow I'm in a safe place, I can come and be who I' am, I can do the kind of art I need to do, I can do the kind of music I want to do and I've seen lives completely change, we always say art saves lives and it really does in this case," Wagner said.

Wagner said the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy makes it possible for even low-income families to afford art classes.

Tickets are $10.00 and all the money raised from this weekend's concert goes back to the arts academy.

The students will also share the stage with other artist from Cedar Rapids and the surrounding areas.

The concert will be held this Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. right in front of the NewBo City Market.