The Arts, Media And Entertainment Institute Event Returns with “Shock of the Now” 

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

The annual Arts, Media, and Entertainment Institute gathering, called “Shock of the Now,” was held in Burbank from Monday, June 20 to Thursday, June 23.

The informative meeting saw a turnout of more than 400 AME teachers, as well as funders, industry professionals, and policymakers, who assembled for a packed schedule of various local tours and discussions. This included the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, an introductory class at Flappers Comedy Club, a Disney storytelling panel conversation, and a how-to guide on building compelling professional portfolios with Nickelodeon Animation personnel.

Allison Frenzel, Peggy Flynn, Dan Dark Warner Bros Executive Vice President of Worldwide Studio
Operations Jason Maruca Field Deputy for Kathryn Barger’s office and Sally Chan WB Vice President Community Engagement. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

This is the eighth annual event for the Arts, Media, and Entertainment industry sector, a branch of the California Department of Education that cultivates the skills of California high schoolers who plan on working in creative industries. The California Department of Education co-hosted the event in partnership with the Burbank Unified School District. 

After walk-throughs of locations such as Burbank animation studio, Apartment D took place on Monday, day two of the festivities kicked off with a Warner Bros. welcome event. This transpired inside the Steven J. Ross Theater on the historic Warner Bros. lot. A video greeting from Senator Ben Allan was first shown, and a Q&A was next led by Warner Bros. Executive Vice President of Worldwide Operations, Dan Dark, followed by a Dolby panel discussion. A cocktail reception with networking opportunities was later held at Woodbury University, with representatives from the university, Adobe, Walt Disney Studios, IATSE Local 80, Girls Make Beats, Warner Bros. Discovery, Toon Boom, and more in attendance. 

Furthermore, Warner Bros. Discovery offered their studio tour tickets to all AMEI visitors at a discounted rate in honor of the gathering. Warner Bros. Discovery Vice President of Community Engagement, Sally Chan, stated that the company is proud to encourage the ambition of up-and-coming artists through instructive events like this one.  

“Warner Bros. Discovery has had a long history of supporting arts education,” Chan said. “We wanted to partner with Burbank Unified School District and the California Department of Education for the AME Institute to continue promoting ways we can support both teachers and students and provide the tools and resources necessary to develop the next generation of storytellers.”

One AMEI attendee, Julianne Aguilar, is a Career Technical Education film and theatre instructor at Atwater High School of the Merced Unified School District. She expressed her joy in being able to connect with “incredibly talented and knowledgeable professionals in their natural habitat,” which was especially appreciated following the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So many of us AME teachers are ‘solo acts’ at our schools … and then the pandemic exasperated the isolation,” Aguilar said. “This conference felt like an amazing AME four-day group hug! I met kindred spirits in other educators, industry professionals, government folks – everyone passionate about educating the next generation of young creatives … Everyone!”

Aside from joining like-minded professionals, the convention provided valuable hands-on training for AME educators. Demonstrations of gaming platforms, sound mixing, and Adobe products, among others, were given during the event. The Arts & Career Technical Education Coordinator of the Burbank Unified School District, Peggy Flynn, explained how these presentations assure that high school students throughout the state are met with the strongest curriculum possible as they pursue an AME career.

“Partnering with professionals in the field is essential to ensuring what we are teaching is relevant to the current and predicted future workforce needs of the Arts, Media, and Entertainment industry sector,” Flynn said. “Technology is ever-evolving, and school districts are working within the confines of their budgets – which, for CTE, is largely from grants – to keep up. So having hands-on opportunities with the latest technology helps to ensure that we are investing wisely.” 

AME Arts Lead of the California Department of Education, Allison Frenzel, praised the wide-ranging instructional system of the four-day function. 

Allison Frenzel and Dan Dark Warner Bros Executive Vice President of Worldwide Studio Operations (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“As someone who loves interactive learning, this year’s institute offered deeper, industry-connected learning opportunities than the traditional education conference model of the past,” Frenzel said.

Since Burbank has been dubbed the “Media Capital of the World” and hosts a booming AME industry, the city was deemed the perfect place to host the return of the event. Visit Burbank, DreamWorks, and 5D Spectrum are additional local groups who stepped up and contributed to “Shock of the Now.” On behalf of the BUSD, Flynn expressed her gratitude to the participants who made this year’s meeting possible. 

“There is so much to do and see here. Burbank Unified is blessed to have so many generous and supportive partners, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to share with educators from every corner of California,” Flynn said before adding, “Our attendees were able to attend sessions and still easily explore the charm of every neighborhood in Burbank.”

Adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines has remained a top priority for all supporters, and community partners have spent the past year meticulously collaborating on the plans for “Shock of the Now.” The outcome of this unwavering commitment has proven to be beneficial for satisfied guests of the gathering.  

 “I have learned more and feel more connected to my industry sector and my teaching community in four days than I have in the last five years,” Aguilar said.

To learn more about the Arts, Entertainment, and Media industry sector, visit its site here.