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Small Gatherings Boost Give Instead Gala Fundraising Efforts

In the final days of the Give Instead Gala fundraising push by the Burbank Arts For All Foundation, two Burbankers held a small gathering that raised more than $11,000 for the Foundation’s arts education efforts.

Former Burbank Unified School District teacher, Linda Walmsley, and local business owner, Jon Schafer of Schafer Electric, hosted approximately 30 people at Walmsley’s Burbank home on May 9.

Friends and neighbors stopped by the party, depositing their donations for the Foundation in a collection bucket.

Host Jon Schafer, Foundation Executive Director Trena Pitchford, Host Linda Walmsley and Foundation Board member Suzanne Weerts at a Give Instead Gala home fundraiser. (Photo Courtesy Burbank Arts For All Foundation)

Michael Cusumano donated a gift of $5,000 from the Cusumano Family Foundation. Timur Tecimer of Overton Moore Properties, Sue and Vic Georgino and former school board member Larry Applebaum each gave $1,000 for the Give Instead Gala.

“It was wonderful to have so many friends support Jon and me in a cause that makes our city the best it can be for our children and our schools,” commented Walmsley.

Linda Walmsley with former students Casey and Cole Black and Astrid Newman. (Photo Courtesy Burbank Arts For All Foundation)

Two of Walmsley’s former students, Cole and Casey Black, also visited the party and added their donation to the cause.

“We so appreciate Linda and Jon taking the initiative to host such a lovely evening for Burbank Arts for All Foundation,” commented Foundation Board member Karen Volepi-Gussow. “There are so many worthwhile organizations in Burbank, and we appreciate the time and effort they gave to support our Give Instead Gala campaign!”

All proceeds from the Give Instead Gala benefits the Burbank Arts for All Foundation, which has worked in partnership with Burbank Unified School District for more than 12 years. The Foundation has made 298 grants and giving initiatives for BUSD arts education programs, totaling $662,000, over the years.

“Burbank Arts for All Foundation is so very grateful to the more than 300 donors, sponsors and community leaders – like Linda and Jon – who have joined us for the Give Instead Gala!” said Trena Pitchford, Executive Director for Burbank Arts for All Foundation. “To date, the Give Instead Gala revenue grossed more than $148,000 through donations and the online auction.”

“Our donors inspire us to continue our work throughout 2019. As we announced in February, the Foundation plans to give more to BUSD arts education through our community outreach programs and site based grant giving that will help teachers and impact students!” Pitchford added.

“The Foundation has been a committed partner of BUSD’s Arts for All master plan for more than 12 years and we intend to continue our work in the years to come.”


Burbank Arts For All Foundation Nears May 10 Deadline

The Burbank Arts For All Foundation has raised nearly $100,000 in recent weeks to support arts education in Burbank public schools for their Give Instead Gala. With just 10 days remaining in the month-long campaign, the Foundation makes a renewed push to raise additional funds in hopes of meeting their $200,000 goal by May 10.

The Foundation announced on April 12 that instead of throwing a fancy party with a lot of overhead, they were focusing efforts to encourage people and local businesses to make direct donations to support arts grants for the Burbank Unified School District, calling the campaign the Give Instead Gala.

“Burbank Arts for All Foundation is inspired by all of the stories shared by donors during its Give Instead Gala emphasizing the importance of arts education in a student’s school day,” commented Foundation Executive Director Trena Pitchford. “These stories make it clear that many adults living and working in Burbank benefited from the arts when they were young, and they want the same creative experiences for children in school today.”

burbank arts for all foundation

(Back row left to right) Foundation Board members Suzanne Weerts, Freddy Jarjour, Bob Mohler, Tom Vice, Carrie Brown, Karen Broderick, Cathy Stevens, Patrick Prescott. (Front row left to right) Board members Debbie Kukta, Caroline Solberg, Karen Volpei-Gussow, Foundation Executive Director Trena Pitchford, Board members Alexandra Helfrich, Jill Vander Borght, Art St. Germain, Lili Rossi, Barbara Beckley, Kevin McCarney. (Photo Courtesy Burbank Arts for All Foundation)

Twelve Burbank teams have also been created to network and help with the direct donation campaign.

“Thanks to our team captains and all our donors we are almost half way to our goal! We invite everyone to join us and share why you support arts education, the Foundation’s work, or help a team reach their goal!”

More information and personal stories about the ways the arts have affected donors and the fundraising team captains can be found at this link.

The Burbank Arts For All Foundation is also running an online silent auction, with information on the items and ability to bid located at this link. Concert tickets, yoga classes, garden tours, music, art, vacations and more are all available for bidding through May 12.

Direct donations can be made online here. All donations are tax-deductible. The funds raised from the Give Instead Gala will go to support the Foundation’s grants, which specifically fund arts education for Burbank public schools.

Recently, the Foundation announced a grant of $100,000 to save one of the elementary music teacher positions, which had been on the chopping block as Burbank Unified faces a budget shortfall for the coming 2019-20 school year.

“Give Instead Gala” Kicks Off Fundraising Efforts For Burbank Public Schools

The Burbank Arts For All Foundation kicks off the Give Instead Gala, a month-long campaign to raise funds to support Burbank Unified School District’s arts programs, on Friday, April 12.

While the Foundation’s annual Party on the Plaza spring gala has earned a reputation as a stylish and entertaining evening to raise funds, its costly overhead takes a big bite out of donations and sponsorships for the event, reducing the amount the Foundation is able to donate to BUSD.

Image Courtesy Burbank Arts For All Foundation

In order to boost the amount of funding they can provide Burbank Unified in the face of the district’s mounting financial need, Burbank Arts For All Foundation has put forth the “black tie optional, pajamas preferred” month-long fundraising effort, calling it the Give Instead Gala.

“On behalf of our Board of Directors and staff, Burbank Arts for All Foundation is excited to engage the community in support of our mission to further creativity in the classroom for all of BUSD’s students,” commented Board of Directors Co-Chairs, Jill Vander Borght and Tom Vice. “With so many increased funding needs in the local schools, we could not justify spending money on our fancy night out this year.”

In February, we were thrilled to grant $100,000 to help save an elementary music teacher, but we know there is more work to do,” they added. “Help the Foundation to spend less this gala season, so we can give more throughout 2019. We invite the community to join us, to link arms and to give in support of the arts.”

Burbank Arts For ALl Foundation Donates $100,000 to help save a Burbank Unified elementary music teacher’s job. Pictured: Burbank Unified School District Board of Education Clerk Steve Frintner, Burbank Unified School District Board of Education member Charlene Tabet, Burbank Unified School District Board of Education President Dr. Roberta Reynolds, Superintendent Dr. Matt Hill, Jill Vander Borght and Tom Vice (Co-Chairs, Board of Directors of Burbank Arts for All Foundation), Foundation Executive Director Trena Pitchford and members of the Burbank Arts for All Foundation Board of Directors: Brenda Etterbeek, Bob Mohler, Joan McCarthy, Lili Rossi, Cathy Stevens, Suzanne Weerts, Barbara Beckley, Caroline Solberg, Art St. Germain. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

The Give Instead Gala campaign suggests those who would usually spend money on tickets (which were typically $150 each), donations and sponsorships for the Party on the Plaza event, instead spend that amount in a direct donation to the Burbank Arts For All Foundation.

The campaign also suggests individuals or organizations could host a fundraising gathering on their own, create and promote a fundraising team online or make bids on the online auction which begins Friday, April 26. Items available for the online auction can be found here.

“We invite all of Burbank and those who care about Burbank students to become involved,” commented Foundation Executive Director Trena Pitchford. “With so much need, the Foundation wants to increase our impact, making it possible for even more students to experience the joy, creativity, and confidence that comes from learning through the arts!”

Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Matt Hill, Burbank Board of Education President Dr. Roberta Reynolds, Burbank Arts for All Foundation Co-Chairs Jill Vander Borght and Tom Vice during an announcement that they are donating $100,000 to aid the elementary school music program. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

“We are counting on the more than 400 of Burbank’s local business and entertainment industry leaders, School District and City officials, celebrities, local arts supporters and educators who would normally attend our Party for the Arts gala, to get creative, party in your pajamas and share why you support the arts!” she added.

All proceeds from the Give Instead Gala benefits the Burbank Arts for All Foundation. Over the past 12 years, the Foundation has been able to fund 298 grants totaling more than $662,000 for BUSD arts education programs.

The Burbank Arts For All Foundation also hosts regular community engagement exchanges and forums to boost parent involvement and support student growth in the arts and arts-related careers, including the popular Creative Circles forum. The most recent Creative Circles Forum was held in October 2018 and experts talked about “The Art of Stagecraft.”

Panelists KayDee Lavorin Friel (two-time Emmy nominated set decorator), Jim Bissell (award-winning art director and production designer), Karen Broderick (Stage Craft Technology teacher at Burbank High School), Lily LaRocco (Vice President of Technical Services for Warner Bros. Studio Facilities) and Tim Pipher (producer and owner of L.A. Castle Studios) sat on a green screen set for “The Art of Stagecraft” educational Creative Circles forum presented by the Burbank Arts For All Foundation. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Current Give Instead Gala sponsors include The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Nickelodeon, Logix Federal Credit Union, Providence Saint Joseph, FotoKem, House America Financial, and Woodbury University.

The Give Instead Gala is co-chaired by Joan McCarthy (The Walt Disney Company), Karen Volpei (Volpei-Gussow Real Estate), Carrie Brown ( The Walt Disney Company), Writer/Producer Suzanne Weerts and Cathy Stevens {Real Value Properties, Inc.)

More information on the Give Instead Gala can be found on the Foundation’s website here. Digital advertising and other sponsorship opportunities are available, with more information on the fundraising announcement and effort found here.

The Give Instead Gala runs through Friday, May 10.