The Virginia Avenue Project, a Santa Monica-based arts organization, will honor actors Annette Bening and Harry Shearer during its 16th annual fundraiser — “16 Sweet Years” — Thursday, October 16th, at the Hotel Casa Del Mar, 1910 Ocean Way in Santa Monica.

Founded 16 years ago, the Virginia Avenue Project is a free after-school program that uses the performing arts in conjunction with long-term one-on-one mentoring to help youths discover their full potential.

One of the project’s community partners is the Santa Monica Police Activities League in which classes, workshops, and academic enrichment and tutoring are offered throughout the year.

Bening will be honored with the Art for Heart’s Sake Award and Shearer will receive the True Original Award. In addition, the California Arts Council will receive the Community Hero Award.

Bening, an Oscar-nominated actress and Golden Globe winner, is known for her portrayals of complex women in movies such as American Beauty, Bugsy, Being Julia, Mrs. Harris and most recently, The Women. She will receive the Art for Heart’s Sake Award for her inspiring body of work and her dedication to helping the arts thrive, most recently through her long association with the California Arts Council, Virginia Avenue Project staff said.

Shearer will receive the True Original Award for inspiring young and old alike to live authentically, project staff said. He is the host of Le Show on KCRW, as well as the voice of several characters on The Simpsons TV show, including Ned Flanders.

The actor has also been featured in comedies, including This Is Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration, and he is a two-time Emmy award nominee.

Virginia Avenue Project youths and their adult mentors will be featured in two short plays at the event that reflect the Project’s commitment to providing arts mentoring programs within Santa Monica, Culver City and Los Angeles.

For information or to purchase tickets for the event, www.vir giniaavenueproject.org/, or Shelly Wood at (310) 264-4224.

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