DARIEN — Nestled behind Town Hall and the Mather Center is the Darien Arts Center, hidden from the road but busy with a stream of artists, actors, dancers and musicians of all ages that flock to the DAC for its programs.

Amy Allen is the executive director of the DAC. Her work in recent weeks has centered around the nonprofit’s biggest annual fundraiser, “Darien’s Got Talent,” which will take place at Darien High School on June 25.

Allen met for interview this week to discuss “Darien’s Got Talent,” getting kids off their iPhones and into art and the center’s many offerings.

Q: How long have you been with the DAC?

A: I am now in my eighth year as executive director. I grew up in town. I come from a background of artists and actors and performers, so it’s a perfect fit for all that we have going on here.

Q: What population are you serving?

A: We serve mostly children, I would say, who are interested in furthering education in the different media: dance, visual arts, music and theater.

Q: Are there certain types of programs that kids seem especially drawn to?

A: Dance is a sport, as well as an art form, so we’ve always had a lot of participation there, with nearly 600 students. We have over 70 in our music program, so that is growing. And kids’ theater is growing as well.

Q: Because of the ubiquity of iPads and smartphones, is it increasingly difficult to pull kids away from technology and get them interested in art?

A: We’re trying to include technology. To combat any fear or concern about those that are stuck behind their iPads or their iPhones, I created a new program called PicDarien and with the help of Beth Cherico from our visual arts program, we created a small fundraiser to benefit the visual arts program this year. It was a smartphone photo contest. So this contest featured those that maybe don’t consider themselves artists but who are artists, who are taking pictures, who are capturing the world around them. We had all ages participate and we had 400 submissions. We had over 100 in attendance at the opening reception and we gave out many awards sponsored by merchants in town. It was a big hit.

Q: How has the center been supported in town?

A: I think not enough people know about us, but those that do know about us, support us. We do depend on donations from individuals and foundations and grant money. We are a private nonprofit and tuition and ticket sales do not cover all of our operating expenses, so fundraising is crucial for us. And we are finding more and more support within the community. For example, recently the Chamber of Commerce chose us to be beneficiaries of their wine and food auction.

Q: When did the idea for “Darien’s Got Talent” take shape?

A: When I first started here, I looked around and I realized that people thought of us as a performing arts center only. They were very familiar with our dance program, but they didn’t know about theater, kids theater, music and the visual arts. I realized that if you weren’t taking a class here it didn’t mean that you weren’t an artist or didn’t have talent. So I thought, ‘How do we bring our expertise to a larger community and offer them an opportunity to perform?’ I decided we need a talent show. This is now the third year producing it. The first year was 2012 and it was upstairs in Town Hall and we had a sellout performance of 400 seats. The next year we took it to the high school and we sold out nearly 800 seats. We’re bringing it back this year to the high school and we hope to sell out again.

Q: Who will perform?

A: We had auditions back on May 21 and 22, and we had nearly 60 people audition and we’ve chosen 20 to compete. There’s a student and adult category so that we can give out more prizes. We have contestants from Norwalk, Westport and Darien. The theme this year is “Darien’s Got Taste.” We have local caterers and grocery stores donating food so we can taste the best of Darien and feed our hungry performers.

It will be a phenomenal show. People who saw it the past two years were blown away. I think they expect a middle school, low-tech kind of show. What they got was a high-quality performance. It’s amazing. And sometimes the littlest kids have the biggest voices.

Q: How can people of all ages benefit from art programs?

A: I think people are extremely busy with families and with personal goals and jobs and I think it’s hard for people to take a break. The arts offer people an opportunity to tap into intellectual and soulful activities that bring joy to your life. I was brought up with so much emphasis and support for the arts, but I know that most people don’t have that. So I think that’s a gift that I can bring to this community and to this center. I believe in it and it’s important to a well-rounded education if you’re a student. Or it’s an opportunity you can give yourself to stop and be creative, whether it’s with cooking, the arts, writing or music.

It’s fun, and it’s social. This is a very supportive atmosphere, whether or not you’re particularly strong at the art form, you’re going to get a very supportive group of people.

Q: Do you still find time to make art?

A: I have a studio at home and I long to get in there a little more. I used to do large castings out of bronze and sugar and rubber and paintings that I hang here in my office. It ran the gamut from very conceptual installation work to landscape painting. I tried it all.

Tickets for Darien’s Got Talent available at http://www.darienarts.org/calendar-of-events/dariens-got-talent

justin.papp@scni.com ; dariennewsonline.com