More than 300 people gathered Friday evening at the Shriners in Cranston for the third annual Inspiration of Love Youth Artists and Leadership Awards sponsored by the Natasha Love Foundation.
The evening showcased the artistic talents of youth and recognized the contributions made to the arts by the late John Pagliarini and his widow, Florence.
Elected officials, including Mayors Allan Fung of Cranston and Scott Avedisian of Warwick and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, spoke of the importance of the arts to the economy and the community.
The foundation was founded by Rebecca Flores whose daughter, Natasha Love Gonsalves, was stabbed to death at the age of 18 when she sought to peaceably resolve a dispute between peers. An artist, her mother has since used the arts as a means for youth to channel their aggression and to gain self-confidence. Funds raised will be used for foundation programs.