Grant money to help pay for Burbank student TV studio, other programs

The Burbank Arts for All Foundation this week announced that it would disperse $20,000 in grants to help fund everything from auditorium renovations to a new television studio for local students.

The annual grants are designed to ensure that arts education remains a prominent feature of the Burbank Unified curriculum.

This year, the money will benefit 14 visual and performing arts programs, helping to finance the renovation of school auditoriums, the creation of a media lab and television studio, an interactive Shakespeare day and a sculpture project, among others.

Founded in 2006, Burbank Arts for All has provided more than $120,000 to local, school-based visual and performing arts programs. The 2011 grant cycle attracted a record 33 applications, said foundation co-chair Alexandra Helfrich.

“It just feels like the further we go with this, the more creative thinking is coming out of the schools, and the more excited they are about opportunities to do new things and different things,” Helfrich said.

Among those awarded money this year was Burroughs High School economics teacher Jan Rhodes, who conceived a cross-disciplinary project in which students design propaganda-style posters inspired by the Council for Economic Education’s national standards.

The 20 standards address economic issues, including the scarcity of resources, incentives and trade, Rhodes said. The series of posters are expected to be completed by May.

“I don’t necessarily know that I would have conquered an idea this ambitious had I not really gotten the support,” Rhodes said. “Now it is starting to move forward, and the availability of the funds from the foundation is really going to give us the opportunity to do really cool artwork.”

The integration of art and economics in Rhodes’ project is exactly the type of interdisciplinary study that Burbank Unified wants to foster, Supt. Stan Carrizosa said.

“It kind of becomes a standard for us, a model for other teachers to look and be able to emulate,” Carrizosa said. “Everything can be woven artistically if you look at it that way. She has given us a great example of how to do that.”

The number of Arts for All grant applicants speaks to the continued need for support for visual and performing arts programs, Carrizosa added.

“Artistic experiences capture our creative thinking and passion, which is a direct line to our best intellectual capacities,” Carrizosa said. “This is exactly how arts education enriches the lives of our students.”

Twitter: @megankoneil

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