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Vans kicks off annual custom culture art competition for high schools nationwide

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Vans, in partnership with Americans for the Arts, Journeys and truth®, invites high school art students across the country to take part in the fifth annual Vans Custom Culture, an art and design competition to celebrate student creativity and support arts education. Beginning today, high school art teachers can register for their students to vie against schools across the country to create the most artistic designs using blank Vans shoes as a canvas. The winning school will receive a $50,000 donation for their school art program, and one of the shoe designs will be put into production for sale in select Vans retail stores.

Vans Custom Culture was created to inspire and empower high school students to embrace their creativity through art and design, and call attention to the fact that school art programs are suffering due to diminishing education budgets. Vans Custom Culture has grown exponentially since its inception in 2010 with 326 schools, growing to almost 2,000 schools expected to participate this year. To date, Vans Custom Culture has reached hundreds of thousands of students and put more than $290,000 back into high school art programs.

"Creative expression is at the core of who we are at Vans, and cultivating creativity among students is something we feel very strongly about,” said Doug Palladini, vice president and general manager of the Americas at Vans. “Art is not just a creative outlet, but a vital part of the student experience and a key driver of success both in school and eventually in the workforce. With shrinking budgets in public education affecting schools across the country, our goal is to put much-needed funds back into the hands of school art programs through Custom Culture so we can continue to inspire students to pursue their creative passions.”

Beginning today through Feb. 14 at 12:00 noon PST, high school art teachers can register their students for the 2014 competition on the Vans Custom Culture website (vans.com/customculture). Students will be tasked with designing four pairs of blank Vans shoes each to depict one of four themes representing the Vans “Off the Wall” lifestyle: action sports, art, music, and local flavor.

Vans employees will help select the top 50 schools to be semi-finalists. The public will then have the opportunity to vote for their favorites through the Vans Custom Culture website between April 25 and May 12. The top five schools will move on as finalists traveling to New York City to showcase their designs for celebrity judges and the chance to win $50,000 for their school art program. Vans will also donate $4,000 to each of the four runner-up schools, and another $50,000 to nonprofit partner Americans for the Arts, in support of their work as the nation's leading organization for advancing the arts and art education.

National retailer Journeys and truth®, the nation’s largest youth smoking prevention campaign, are partnering with Vans again for this year’s competition and will offer additional award opportunities. Journeys will donate a $10,000 ‘Local Attitude’ award to the school that creates the most compelling ‘local flavor’ design, and truth® will offer the top 50 semi-finalists a chance to compete for yet another $10,000 award for their arts programs by customizing a skateboard deck illustrating the dangers of smoking.

For information and registration guidelines visit the Custom Culture website at vans.com/customculture.

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