Tag Archives: arts

New Garry Marshall Theatre Marquee Brightens Burbank

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The Garry Marshall Theatre lit up the Burbank sky with the unveiling of their new marquee Thursday night. The occasion marks a reinvention of sorts for everyone involved. Art Directors Joseph Leo Bwarie and Dimitri Toscas were on hand to introduce the new sign, as were some of Garry’s closest friends and family.

“This is really exciting,” said Joseph Bwarie, “the gathering of people from all crosses of Garry’s life coming together, and lights mean something in everyone’s life. But neon lights across from Bob’s Big Boy, we’re giving Bob a run for his money!” With a countdown starting from 13, which was Garry Marshall’s favorite number, the neon marquee became alive and was greeted with an enormous applause.

“Joe and I have been working on this for months and months,” remarked Dimitri Toscas, “we worked to get it together and it’s moving to see the lights turned on.” Marshall’s friends were also on hand to walk the red carpet and talk about what it means to have a resurgence in Burbank’s art community. Actress and Director Jenny Sullivan was “thrilled” to witness the event. She went on to say the ceremony was a “big deal and emotional.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Actor Jack McGee said attending the event was “rewarding, it gave me goosebumps, I’ve worked with for Garry a number of times before, I did my first theatre out here and I’m just thrilled to be here.” Joe Mantegna, another one of Marshall’s closest friends, said the event was “Great. I lived three doors down from Garry for the last twenty-six years. It’s a fitting thing for a guy who’s done so much for this community to have a theatre named after him.”

The theatre conducted rehearsals tonight for their opening of “Master Class.” Coincidentally, “Master Class” was one of Marshall’s favorite plays. One of the points stressed by friends and family in attendance was that just because Marshall isn’t physically here to help run the theatre doesn’t mean his presence isn’t felt.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Marshall’s wife, Barbara Wells, explained further by saying, “[The theatre] was doing great for twenty years, and now we had to do something to freshen it up, give it a new name and let everyone know that we’re back in business and that we’ve never stopped. When the season finished in July, Gary had done that. That was his season that he had planned everything. We filled out his year and now we’re freshening it up and are trying to get more things going on.” Furthermore, there are planned fundraisers that will be happening in the near future to help the theatre continue to run in its pristine condition. “[Garry] paid for everything. He did everything. I said, ‘If I could direct, act, or write, I would.’ I don’t do any of those things,” said Wells.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The first large fundraising event is a gala scheduled for November 13, which was Garry’s birthday. The gala is set to host an auction that will include memorabilia belonging to the Marshall family. The gala is important to the theatre as it is currently being run as non-profit.

Marshall’s granddaughter capped off the night by saying her favorite moment was that all of the people she knew were there and that she “got to meet them all and the lighting of the marquee was very exciting.” To find more information on tickets and events, visit www.garrymarshalltheatre.org,

Roosevelt Students Make Butterfly Art For School Installation

The students of Theodore Roosevelt Elementary school in the Magnolia Park section of Burbank recently helped create the new art installation that graces the main hallway of the Burbank Unified school.

At a lunchtime art project for Cal Arts Day, an annual event sponsored at the school by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Roosevelt kids from all grades colored and decorated pre-cut butterflies. PTA Cal Arts Day co-chairs Kristen Gara and Shauna Funk then collected those hundreds of butterflies and used them to create an inspirational display outside the school’s main office.

Roosevelt Elementary first-graders color butterflies for a school-wide art project.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Roosevelt Elementary first-graders color butterflies for a school-wide art project.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Our new Roosevelt art installation could not have been completed without the help of our students,” commented Gara, who is also a graphic designer. “On October 17, California Arts Day, we asked each student to decorate a paper butterfly.”

“We then hung those butterflies in a pattern within a frame we call ‘The Big Picture,’ creating this year’s most dynamic art installation,” she explained.

Shauna Funk (left) and Kristen Gara co-chaired the PTA Cal Arts Day school-wide art project.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Shauna Funk (left) and Kristen Gara co-chaired the PTA Cal Arts Day school-wide art project.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“As a former art teacher for the Burbank Unified School District, I understand how important California Arts Day is to encourage students to express themselves through creativity,” said Funk.

“It was exciting to watch the students come together in a collaborative effort to create beautiful butterflies that represent themselves as individuals and would later be a  part of a large scale installation that represents the entire student body as a whole!” she added.

Cal Arts Day was created by the California Arts Council and is celebrated during October in a variety of ways. The day promotes the arts and acknowledges its importance to the economy, society and education.

Shauna Funk (left) and Kristen Gara coordinated and installed the giant art project, comprised of hundreds of individual butterflies, in the main hallway of Roosevelt Elementary School. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Shauna Funk (left) and Kristen Gara coordinated and installed the giant art project, comprised of hundreds of individual butterflies, in the main hallway of Roosevelt Elementary School. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)


Creative Circles Forum Discusses Technology And The Arts In Schools

Burbank Arts For All Foundation (BAFA) presents the first Creative Circles Forum of the year on Monday, February 24,  with Art + Technology: Experts Explore Innovation in Burbank Schools. Experts in the fields of science, the arts and technology will discuss the ways in which artistic perspective and approach helps develop greater scientific and technical applications for many businesses and creative endeavors.

Panelists include FotoKem’s Senior Vice President Tom Vice, Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Vice President of Technology, Web and Digital Media Amy Heibel, Woodbury University’s Associate Professor of Architecture and Coordinator of History-Theory Curriculum Dr. Ewan Branda and Luther Middle School science teacher Joe Reed, a recent Grantee of BAFA for the “Luther Mobile” project.

Photo Courtesy Burbank Arts For All Foundation

Photo Courtesy Burbank Arts For All Foundation

“In post-production, we use software and hardware to paint images and create worlds that truly defy the imagination. As technology becomes more accessible and the artists become more adept in its application, an amazing deluge of art and innovation fuels modern storytelling,” commented Vice, Senior Vice President of FotoKem.

“We are continually inspired by what technology can bring to the creative table and the ways it can enhance and elevate the audience experience,” Vice added. “Burbank Arts for All Foundation is embracing this wave by collaborating with professionals from many walks of life to engage in a creative conversation at the Creative Circle Forum. I look forward to an open and eventful dialogue.”

“We are seeing the presence of advanced technologies in nearly every aspect of our lives. What does that mean for our Burbank students? CEO’s are now requiring knowledge and skills in both the arts and the sciences,” stated Trena Pitchford, Director of Development for Burbank Arts for All Foundation.

“We are thrilled to present this prestigious panel of experts from a cross section of industries influenced by innovation,” Pitchford continued. “The evening allows for an open discussion between guests and panelists to explore how we can create a truly comprehensive education that prepares students for life where everything is increasingly interconnected in the 21st century.”

Art + Technology: Experts Explore Innovation in Burbank Schools will be held Monday, February 24, from 7:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. The evening is sponsored by FotoKem, a post-production facility located in Burbank, and is open to the public. General admission tickets are $20.

Following the discussion there will be a hosted wine and cheese reception with the expert panel and attendees in the theatre’s lobby. All proceeds from the Creative Circles Forum will benefit Burbank Arts For All Foundation, a nonprofit organization funding arts programs in Burbank public schools.  For more information regarding speakers and tickets visit: http://www.burbankartsforall.org/creative-circles-forum/.


Burbank Arts for All Foundation Has Smash “Party On The Plaza” Gala

The Burbank Arts for All Foundation (BAFA) held its second “Party on the Plaza” Gala last Friday, celebrating a tremendous year of achievement and honoring Lisa Dyson, Peggy Flynn and Warren Stein/Deluxe Entertainment. And it was a work of art from start to finish, blending entertainment, inspiration, food and fundraising in pleasing proportions.

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Master of Ceremonies, Burbank KNBC’s Fritz Coleman (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The weather sprites kept the evening dry and pleasant for the several hundred parents, teachers, school district educators and community leaders on hand to celebrate with BAFA. NBC4’s popular weathercaster Fritz Coleman served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, reminding his audience that BAFA has an importance well beyond its Burbank home. “The Burbank Arts for All Foundation has established a paradigm the rest of the country should pay attention to,” he stated.

And indeed, funding for public school education has been suffering “the death of a thousand cuts” within the State of California and, to varying degrees, throughout the entire country.  Public school art programs of all kinds have been among the first casualties of the budget axe, reducing many California public schools to a shadow of what they had been in the 1960’s, when California’s public school system, from kindergarten to university, was the envy of the entire nation and the world.

Faced with a funding crisis that showed no signs of getting better, Burbank residents and businesses opened their wallets, rolled up their sleeves, shared their own artistic gifts and kept the arts alive for Burbank’s school children.  Since its first meeting in 2006, BAFA has donated over $200,000 to Burbank school arts programs. Most recently, BAFA awarded $21,000 in new grants to support the arts education efforts throughout Burbank. And perhaps it’s no surprise that Burbank, the media arts capital of the world, would refuse to neglect the young artistic talents waiting to blossom within supportive schools.

But much more than money is driving BAFA’s quest to provide a top-of-the-line arts education program for every Burbank child.  The funding dollars are multiplied a hundred fold by passionate teachers, parents and corporate sponsors devoting countless hours of volunteer effort, as exemplified by BAFA’s 2013 honorees.

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Receiving her award is Lisa Dyson, presented by Barbara Miller. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Lisa Dyson received the Champion of the Arts Award for her heroic volunteer efforts to keep arts education a priority in Burbank public schools. She began as the PTA Art Chair for Bret Harte Elementary School and was recently named Chair of BAFA’s Schools Outreach Committee. Thanks to her early coordinating efforts, Bret Harte students handcrafted Thanksgiving gifts for seniors and created personalized Valentine’s Day cards for soldiers overseas. Lisa went on to help principals and teachers obtain grants and matching funds from PTA’s and booster clubs. More recently, she’s been a major force in the arts programs at Luther Middle School. (Don’t believe her when she says she’s only played a “tiny part.”) The programs that Lisa helped grow at her schools are not only self-sustaining, they continue to reach new students each year.  She is “so proud to be a part of this amazing team” that puts in the hundreds of hours of extra time to keep arts education alive.

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Center Peggy Flynn pictured with award (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Peggy Flynn received the Arts for All Educator Award for her outstanding efforts in bringing arts educational resources, financial and in-kind partnerships to the Burbank Unified School District. Her teaching career began 22 years ago, following an earlier life in the design publication and entertainment industries. She’s developed several successful partnered arts programs with Woodbury University. Early on, BAFA recognized that they needed someone “charismatic, energetic and politically savvy” to pull together teachers, parents, politicians and administrators “to make it all happen.” And that’s Peggy. Los Angeles County recognizes her as a leading arts coordinator in the region. For her part, Peggy publicly thanked Burbank’s School Board for making “some very courageous decisions in very tough times.”

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Pictured with award is Warren Stein of Deluxe Entertainment. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Warren Stein and Deluxe Entertainment, where he serves as the Chief Operating Officer, received the Patron of the Arts Award. As a company in the forefront of providing solutions and technologies for the global media and entertainment industries, Deluxe—one of BAFA’s Premiere Sponsors–knows the crucial importance of an arts education. Deluxe “sincerely hopes” that Burbank’s schools will be able to groom future Deluxe employees and company leaders. And Warren, who had earlier served as Deluxe’s Chief Financial Officer, knows a thing or two about marrying funding to exciting projects that rely on a superb arts education. Still, as a “Brit” obliged to quote Winston Churchill, Warren told the audience “my most brilliant achievement was persuading my wife to marry me.”  But it’s very clear that promoting arts education in Burbank has made Warren’s short list of very satisfying life accomplishments.

After a dinner of Asian delectables, Fritz conducted the event’s live auction. His hilarious cajolery coaxed more than a few dollars from formerly fat wallets, adding to the funds raised from the silent auction and special, one-time donations. He was definitely using his comedic powers for good, having honed them at the Comedy Store back in the early 1980s. “I was getting $45 a night back then,” he explained. “A Channel 4 executive in the audience offered me an opportunity to do vacation relief for the regular weathercasters. I said, ‘When do I start?’ Two years later [in 1984], I became the weekday weathercaster.” Nowadays, when he’s not describing yet another day in weather paradise, you might catch Fritz’ doing comedy at Flappers in Burbank as well as other comedy venues.

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Dot Jones shares a little humor about Grey Goose Vodka, an evening sponsor. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A highlight of the evening was a personal appearance from Dot-Marie Jones of Glee fame (also see myBurbank.com Profile), who recalled her school days in the small dairy community of Hilmar, California. “If you weren’t in sports, there wasn’t much to do,” she told the appreciative audience. She is thrilled that the Burbank community has taken the initiative to help schools provide arts education for their students. She started to fall in love with Burbank two years ago, when she co-hosted a show choir event at the Starlight Bowl. As she made her way down the hill and through Burbank, she noticed the town’s charm. Today, she’s a Burbank resident and loves the sense of community here.

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Mayor Dave Golonski, Dr. Brian O’Rourke, Stacy Cashman, Emilio Urioste. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

As Mayor David Golonski has noted more than once, “it’s not the city it’s the community.” And architect and former Mayor Jef Van der Borght pointed out that “art is essential to being a successful architect.” Without an artistic touch to complement the scientific and engineering knowledge, “buildings become boring and bland.”

But guests at the BAFA gala had more than testimonials to convince them. The dazzling mural behind the stage turned out to be the work of Jefferson Elementary School students (to the delighted surprise of much of the audience).  Middle school students designed and restored a “Luthermobile”, a proud entrant in the recent Burbank On Parade. And the sculptured awards were courtesy of students from John Burroughs High School. (Want more examples? At the 5k Run For Life today, you could hear the Jordan Middle School Orchestra solid renditions, and a sixth grade girl’s beautiful, heartfelt The Star Spangled Banner.)

Biologists remind us how diversity makes the web of life stronger. Surely the social web will be stronger when each talent is allowed to add its strand. Burbank is well on its way to being the kind of special place where the dancer can dance, the painter can paint, the sculptor can sculpt and artists of all kinds can find their own special facet of  the good, the true and the beautiful.

Want to learn more? Contact Trena Pitchford, Director of Development, at 818.736.5269 or trena@burbankartsforall.org.