'Nutcracker' program at downtown center

The children's and teen programs at the Kathryn Roszak Dance on Center will perform a chamber recital version of "The Nutcracker" at 2 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Osher Studio in the Arpeggio Building, 2055 Center St. The performance is free for children. For details call 510-233-5550 or visit www.dlkdance.com.

Nobody will say shhhhh at this library program

You don't have to go to the theater to take in a play. The Playreaders program at the Berkeley Public Library will present a Performers Showcase at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in the community room at the Central Library, 2090 Kittredge Ave.

Members will be reading favorite scenes by authors such as Arthur Miller and Sarah Ruhl.

"With several retired professional actors in the group and many talented amateurs, we've discovered (and rediscovered) favorite scenes, which we would like to share with others," participants write. "With Shakespeare, Shaw and George S. Kaufman, there's something for everyone."

Details: 510-981-6139.

Free training offered to nonprofit groups

A free training session for nonprofit organizations on how to receive advanced communication services at a discount rate is being offered by the California Teleconnect Fund from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Dec. 6 at the Osher Education Center in the Ed Roberts Building, 3075 Adeline St.


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Organizers explain that "CTF is a state program administered by the California Public Utilities Commission that provides a 50 percent discount on advanced communication services, such as broadband Internet, to qualified nonprofits, government-owned and operated clinics, K-12 public and nonprofit private schools, community colleges, and libraries. Its purpose is to facilitate access to more advanced communications through a discounted rate."

The session will cover the basics on the California Teleconnect Fund, available discounts, eligibility criteria and the application process.

Interested organizations should RSVP by Nov. 30 to ctfhelpdesk@rhainc.com or 866-742-8587.

Get into the Hanukkah spirit at free event

"Almost Chanukah," a free fair and concert, will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2 at Congregation Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave.

Traditional and contemporary music, a storyteller, traditional foods, a children's author, crafts, activities for all ages and fair trade items are among the many offerings.

Take part in the holiday gift drive by bringing a new toy, book, game, or item of clothing for a child in need (age 3 to 18) in Oakland.

Event co-sponsors are Camp Kee Tov, Camp Newman, Camp Ramah of California, Camp Tawonga, Fair Trade Judaica, and Be'Chol Lashon.

Details: www.netivotshalom.org.

Learn to bind your own book at presentation

The Berkeley Public Library and artists from Volta Press are holding a free program on the art of bookbinding from 2 to 4 p.m. in the third floor community room at the Central Library, 2090 Kittredge St. The program for ages 12 and up will show participants how to make hand-bound books, perfect for personalized gifts or keepsakes.

Registration is required. For more details call 510-981-6139.

Artisans Open Studios tour is back

Business districts and cities are promoting the idea of shopping local for the holidays and beyond and gift buying doesn't get much more local than handmade art and craft items made by area artists.

That's what you'll find at the 22nd annual Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios, a free self-guided tour that starts this weekend and continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 24.

More than 100 artists and craftspeople will be at their studios and galleries to welcome visitors and discuss fine art pieces of all types, as well as textiles, jewelry, leather bags, recycled art, sculpture, photography, paintings, mosaics, stained glass, original prints and works on paper, musical instruments and artisan wines.

"All work is handcrafted, and many pieces are one-of-a-kind," says the Berkeley Artisans group, adding that "Many studios are in the same building, or are clustered within walking distance from one another."

A free map and directory of participants is available online at www.berkeleyartisans.com or can be picked up at Berkeley Artisans, 2547 Eighth St.

Snow and seasonal fun on Shattuck

The North Berkeley business district on Shattuck Avenue is kicking off the holiday season from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2 by declaring a snow day in the parking lot at 1673 Shattuck Ave. Visit the Snow Queen, ride a pony, make holiday crafts, browse craft vendors and enjoy and hot cider and cookies courtesy of Andronico. Details: www.AnotherBullwinkelShow.com or www.GourmetGhetto.org.

-- Chris Treadway