BAFA Forum Examines Arts, Sciences And Technology Future

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Arts For All Foundation (BAFA) presented another in its series of Creative Circles Forums with “Arts Education + Technology: Experts Explore Innovation In Burbank Schools” on Monday, February 24. The BAFA forum discussed the importance of Art and Design as crucial aspects of education, to be included along with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM.)

The advent of the nationwide Common Core standards will support the recent emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Design, Mathematics.) Art and design concepts add innovation to the STEM subjects and many experts point to creativity as the way to keep America and its economy growing.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Tom Vice, Amy Heibel, Joe Reed and Dr. Ewan Branda converse. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The BAFA forum brought together Fotokem Senior Vice President Tom Vice, Luther Middle School science teacher Joe Reed. LACMA’s VP of Techonology, Web and Digital Media Amy Heibel and Woodbury University’s Associate Professor of Architecture and Coordinator of History-Theory Curriculum Dr. Ewan Branda.

Falcon Theatre owner Garry Marshall kicked off the conversation and welcomed the audience with a humorous opener. Moderated by Steven Mallory, Director of Ideation at Edelman Public Relations, the goal of the forum was to create conversation between educators and organizations and businesses from throughout the city about the connection of the arts and technology in the schools.

Falcon owner Garry Marshall welcomed all to his theatre prior to the panel talk. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Falcon owner Garry Marshall welcomed all to his theatre prior to the panel talk. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The panel discussed the major changes in art, science, business, education and culture in general brought about by widespread use of technology.

“We’re seeing a huge shift in people as makers of culture, not just consumers of culture,” commented Heibel, who is working on an arts and technology lab installation to be unveiled at LACMA in the coming year. “We are seeing artists who are technologists or who collaborate with technologists.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Vice mentioned the major changes in image and movie technology over the past eight years, switching the industry standard from film to digital media, and shifting the services Fotokem offers from film finishing and development to include software creation for the production community.

The changes Fotokem has undergone mirrors the creative and artistic changes happening throughout in K-12 and post-secondary education. The skills and talents young people must possess for entry into the contemporary business and creative worlds go hand-in-hand with the continuing advances in technology.

Reed mentioned the successful Luther Mobile project from 2013, built by students in his Exploring Technology elective class at the local middle school. The lab class uses concepts from applied physics, microbiology and robotics, among other fields, along with technology and creative skills to rebuild an engine-based project every year.

The computer interaction along with the hands-on work inspires kids to innovate, Reed said. He went on to describe one student’s persistence in outfitting an old BMX bike with a motor and making the contraption work.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Tom Vice, Amy Heibel, Joe Reed, Dr. Ewan Brands, BAFA Director of Development Trena Pitchford and moderator Steven Mallory. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

While technology has provided labor-saving help with calculations and digital drawing, on the creative side of things, the digital tools also help determine the building’s ultimate design based on plugged-in factors including dimensions and needs, said Branda.

All four panelists agreed that whatever the advancements may be in creating and technology, the ability to work with other people and differing personalities has become paramount. Reed pointed to the building of executive functioning skills – determining the end goal and then planning the steps to achieve that goal – as something he’s working on with his middle school students.

Branda mentioned testing early and failing early as hallmarks in any process, be it in building, science, production or art. He also talked about the recent rise in design-your-own games and the distinction between being a passive consumer of media and using technology to create something new.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
John Muir Middle School Principal Dr. Greg Miller speaks with forum attendees.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

While STEAM has become the new buzzword to move America forward, in education and business, the innovative and creative aspects of technology also help engage students in science, math and engineering fields. An artistic approach and application can make the technical fields a lot more fun, the panelists agreed.

Monday evening’s event was sponsored by Fotokem and held in front of a full house, with members of the BUSD School Board, BAFA, City government, BUSD teachers and administrators, parents and students present. Members of the local business community and creative media industry were also in attendance. At a post-discussion reception in the Falcon Theatre lobby, panelists and attendees continued to talk about the future of technology and the arts in Burbank schools.

BAFA Board Members and Guest Panelist . ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)
BAFA Board Members and guest panelists. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)
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