Burbank Arts for All changes gala in hopes of raising more funds for schools

Burbank Arts for All Foundation Executive Director Trena Pitchford, center, with foundation co-chairs Tom Vice and Jill Vander Borght, announced the group is changing its annual fundraising platform. The group is promoting its "Give Instead Gala,” which is a monthlong event.
(File Photo)

From bright-light celebration to virtual party, the Burbank Arts for All Foundation is changing its annual fundraising platform in an attempt to raise even more critical funding for the Burbank Unified School District.

The nonprofit organization announced it is doing away with its annual “Party of the Arts Gala” and will instead promote its new “Give Instead Gala.” The latter is described by the foundation in a statement as a monthlong fundraising “extravaganza in order to give more to the BUSD arts education.”

“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,” said Trena Pitchford, foundation executive director.

A year ago this month, the organization held its seventh annual “Party for the Arts” at the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios, during which roughly $100,000 was raised. This year’s goal, according to Pitchford, is to raise $200,000.

The reason for the cancellation of the annual party was laid out in a statement by foundation 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,” their joint statement read.

The duo added, “Help the foundation to spend less in this Gala season, so we can give more throughout 2019. We invited the community to join us, to link arms, and to give in support of the arts.”

The “Give Instead Gala” is a call to donors to contribute in any way they see fit, whether that’s by making an online donation, sponsoring the effort, advertising with the group, hosting a fundraising gathering, creating a fundraising team or other options.

The fundraiser’s official website is, while there is also an online auction taking place at

“We are counting on the more than 400 of Burbank’s local business and entertainment industry leaders, school district and city officials, celebrities, local art supporters and educators who would normally attend our ‘Party for the Arts Gala’ to get creative, party in your pajamas and share why [we should] support the arts,” Pitchford said.

The “Give Instead Gala” officially began Friday and will run through May 10.

All proceeds from the effort will benefit the Burbank Arts for All Foundation, which has invested $662,000 in the district through 298 grants over the past 12 years.

The foundation’s grandest gesture came Feb. 13, when it presented the district with a check for $100,000 to save a music instructor’s position from being cut for the 2019-20 school year.

The donation was the largest in the foundation’s history and was made to help Burbank Unified deal with a $3.5-million structural deficit.

In January, the district had proposed a series of cuts and layoffs, including the elimination of three elementary school music teachers. Through fundraising efforts, two of those three layoffs have been rescinded.

Burbank Unified estimates the costs of retaining three music teachers next year will be $275,328.

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