Burbank Arts For All Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Supporting BUSD Arts

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Burbank Arts For All Foundation kicked off the 2016-17 school year and celebrated 10 years of funding arts programs in the Burbank Unified School District with a reception held at The Walt Disney Studios recently.

More than 100 guests attended the event, including Foundation donors, volunteers and partners and Board of Education members President David Applebaum, Vice President Steve Ferguson, Clerk Dr. Roberta Reynolds, Charlene Tabet, and Dr. Armond Agakhanian.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)
Burbank Arts For All Foundation Chair Carrie Brow, Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes and Joan McCarthy of The Walt Disney Company and Foundation Board Member get ready for the evening’s presentation. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Along with Burbank City officials including Mayor Jess Talamantes and Vice Mayor Will Rogers, City Council members Emily Gabel-Luddy, Bob Frutos and Dr. David Gordon, and Debbie Kukta, Burbank City treasurer, the reception was also attended by Superintendent Matt Hill and BUSD administration, teachers and staff.

The Foundation highlighted programs funded at the Magnolia Park School, a BUSD special educational program for students whose social and emotional functioning significantly impacts their education.  The school provides counseling and behavior services for high school students and their families, in addition to academic classes.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)
Magnolia Park School Program Specialist Avra Warsofsky talks about the impact Burbank Arts For All Foundation funding for arts program has had on the school climate. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“Our program has always placed a focus on increasing the overall social-emotional functioning of our students,” explained Avra Warsofsky, Program Specialist at Magnolia Park School. “Around 4-5 years ago, we all noticed a shift in the population of students. The young people attending our program were appearing to have more significant needs and our classroom accommodations and behavioral supports along with extensive counseling services did not appear to be enough.”

Warsofksky and the school’s two teachers, who teach all academic courses for grades 9 – 12, wanted to bring more to the students who were limited to the campus for the whole school day due to emotional needs. She pointed to a “serendipitous” meeting between the school office manager and Peggy Flynn, BUSD Arts and Career Technical Education Coordinator.

“Peggy was filled with tremendous ideas and passionately engaged in helping us bring Arts education to our program,” she added.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)
(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“When Peggy discovered that the school did not offer arts education, she worked with the school site to develop a Teaching Artist series, where a Visual Artist would collaborate with the teachers onsite and bring a basic art class to the campus,” explained Burbank Arts For All Foundation Executive Director, Trena Pitchord.

“Peggy was filled with tremendous ideas and passionately engaged in helping us bring Arts education to our program,” she added.

“Peggy encouraged the school to apply for funding from us in the Fall of 2014 and we granted that request. Since 2014, we have made three additional investments in the program, growing it to include two music based experiences,” Pitchford went on to say. “Often, our investments were matched with funds provided by the District’s Arts for All budget. This is an example of our ecosystem, our village at work.”

“The impact of the funding provided by Burbank Arts for All Foundation that was utilized for bringing in a visual artist, composer, and drummer to work with our program cannot be overstated!” said Warsofsky.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)
(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“The students created a spectacular floor painting, portraits and story boxes; composed and recorded music; and learned drumming notation and drumming from Uganda and more!”

“I have witnessed a lovely change in the culture of the school. Not just the students but the staff as well,” she also said. “There is a sense of cohesiveness to the program and a pride observed in the students that I have not witnessed previously.”

“The students have worked together to complete projects that involved vision and clear process. The Magnolia Park School teachers, who are both creative in nature, appeared inspired to utilize greater artistic capacity.”

“As adults in their lives, it gives us an additional place of connectedness with our students,” Warsofsky added. “Also, it gives them the opportunity to work through something tangible with a process and either find success or not but given the chance to grow with all of our support.”

BAFA 10 YR Thank you Party @ Disney MB-18

“Yet most importantly, it gives our students the opportunity to be seen as not just as their challenges, but also as full people with ideas, vision, and importance.”

“We want to continue to work with our district, principals and teachers and increase our support to ensure that EVERY student in Burbank’s public schools receives a quality arts education,” Pitchford stated. “If there’s a gap, we want to help fill it.”

Burbank Arts For All Foundation supports teachers and school sites through bi-annual grant programs in addition to funding larger district-wide arts education and integration initiatives, some of which require funding over multiple years.

Pitchford mentioned future Foundation events, such as the regular Community Meetings which begin Wednesday, August 31, at 9:30 a.m. Community Meetings are free and open to the public and offer the latest information and networking opportunities with arts advocates throughout BUSD. More information is available here.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)
(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

The Foundation’s Fall Grant Application deadline is Thursday, September 15. Information on grant making guidelines can be found here.

Wednesday, October 12, the Foundation hosts a Creative Circles Forum, touted as “an inspirational evening with Award-winning Producer/Director and Author on creativity, Don Hahn.”

The Burbank Arts For All Foundation’s annual Secret Art Show will return in November. The pop-up art show raises funds for the Foundation and highlights mini-artworks created by people from all walks of life, music and live visual art in action.