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Via Colori is a street painting festival held throughout the United States to raise funds for not-for-profit organizations. Hundreds of artists gather and create large-scale artworks on the street using chalk, and each artist is usually sponsored by a business or individual. After expenses, the money raised goes to the not-for-profit organization to help further its mission.
Via Colori is founded on a spirit of cooperation, not competitiveness, as a collected expression of artists working together to support a cause.
Street painting was first recorded in Italy in the 16th Century when artists would paint religious icons in the courtyards of cathedrals. Known as "madonnari", these artists were "the visual arts counterpart of minstrels", and would most commonly paint icons of the Madonna.  Street painting festivals are now held throughout the world.
In 1994, Via Colori was founded by author, playwright and performer Rick Compton in Naples, Florida. Now raising hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for not-for-profits, it has continued to grow since that time. Via Colori is owned, supported and licensed by Compton and is licensable by any not-for-profit with a widely-supported mission.
Festivals are currently (2010) held in the following cities: Houston, Texas; Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Glendale, Arizona; Sandestin, Florida; and Fredericksburg, Virginia. They are hosted by "beneficiary hosts", 501(c)(3) organizations that license Via Colori and coordinates the festival to further its mission. In Houston, for example, The Center for Hearing and Speech is the beneficiary host.
From the ranks of the hundred or so volunteer artists who draw in each Via Colori, one is featured. This featured artist usually creates a larger square, and might be well known in the street painting world.
Other artists may be full-time professional artists as well as "talented hobbyists" and "art enthusiasts". Families occasionally paint squares together, or a group of high school students under the supervision of their art teacher will team up.