Exerpted from The Friends Foundation is Five Years Old!
In 2005, the Civic Arts Education (CAE) Advisory Council spearheaded formation of the Friends of Civic Arts Education Foundation. The non-profit 501(c)3 membership organization provides fundraising, volunteerism, and community advocacy for program quality, facilities, equipment, and scholarships. Each year, the Foundation hosts a major fundraiser, ¡Viva Arts!, and sponsors activities that both support the community and raise funds. Current economic times have impacted Foundation fundraising effectiveness.
We provide support and advocacy for Civic Arts Education programs. Our purposes are to:
- Provide a vehicle for public and private philanthropy and to assist individuals, corporations, foundations, and others in making charitable contributions.
- Advocate for Civic Arts Education programs and arts education.
- Fundraise for facilities, programs, and scholarships.
- Create a structure for ongoing collaboration between business, government, and the community to address arts education issues.
- Serve as convener, catalyst, and sponsor for arts education capital planning initiatives.
- Provide for community-building and community awareness events and activities.
FRIENDS CONTRIBUTIONS to SCHOLARSHIPS and ART PROGRAMS
The Foundation is proud of providing nearly 300 scholarships to students in need as well as providing funding for specific arts programs throughout the year.
Year Individual Scholarships
2009-2010: 125 (estimated)
The Friends Foundation has provided financial support to the Youth Theater Company for travel and equipment, to the Dance Academy for the Nutcracker, and to the Textile Program for equipment.
In just five years, the Foundation has provided nearly 300 scholarships including many year-long program commitments. Scholarships have provided access to individuals who would be otherwise unable to participate in classes, ongoing music lessons, Junior Theater, Dance Apprentice Program, and Make Your Mark.
The Foundation has also provided program funding, including two $10,000 matching grants for California Arts Council projects to ArtReach. This funded program brings arts education integrated with academics into nine Mt. Diablo Unified District schools. The program (currently discontinued due to city-wide budget cuts) served approximately 5,000 5th graders in the District.
Aurelio Guimaraes has loved acting, dancing and singing for many years. In 4th grade, he remembers being inspired by his music teacher, Mrs. Ryken. He has gone on to participate in several school dramas and musicals. His big chance came in the fall of 2008 when he received a Civic Arts Education scholarship to participate in the Teen Theatre’s year-long program. Embracing classical dance, he is now a member of the Diablo Ballet Professional Intermediate Program under the direction of Rebecca Crowell. Aurelio, a native of Brazil, moved to the US when he was seven. Fluent in English and Portuguese, he loves learning languages and is tackling Spanish. His dream is to pursue an acting or dancing career and hopes we will see him someday on Broadway!
Kids aren’t the only beneficiaries of Foundation scholarships. Seniors and adults with disabilities are also recipients, such as Evelyne Karim of Walnut Creek. After many years of participating in the ceramics program, Evelyn found her personal finances changing. “As my personal finances soured,” Evelyne says, “I asked for a scholarship.” Now 90 and still active, she says, “Pottery is my main distraction and the studio offers me my main exchange of friendship.” She can no longer make big or elaborate pieces, but the forming and decorating processes “keep me focused and alive.”
In 2007, Theophony Williams, was the first recipient of a Foundation scholarship for Civic Art Education’s year-long Mark Your Mark program. Theo’s high school ceramics teacher, Katherine Beckner (a former teen ceramics instructor with Civic Arts Education) encouraged her to apply for the scholarship. “I had been taking ceramics for two years but had never taken other art classes.” The Mark Your Mark program exposed her to a variety of media but she found that she enjoyed painting the most – especially a self-portrait that she created using only three colors: purple, yellow and green. When asked about her future, Theo said that she wants to be a high school art teacher.
In the 2009-10 year, Friends Foundation was able to increase the scholarship amount allowing four students to enroll in the Make Your Mark program at a greatly reduced cost.
OUR FUNDRAISING ACTIVITIES
On October 30, 2010, the Friends Foundation held ¡Viva Arts!—our 5th gala evening of food, wine, art, entertainment and good cheer. The annual party and fundraiser, emceed by outgoing City Manager, Gary Pokorny, included an extensive array of silent auction items, a live auction, local celebrities, and entertainment provided by some of our top students. The lucky winner of the raffle will spend two glorious nights at the Cottages of Napa Valley, dine at Ad Hoc, and enjoy wine tastings at Duckhorn and Paraduxx wineries. The proceeds from ¡Viva Arts! will benefit the Civic Arts Education scholarship and ArtReach programs, helping to bring all areas of art within the reach of children and adults in the Greater Diablo Valley.
¡Viva Arts! would not have been possible in 2010 without the contributions and in-kind generosity of Wilma Lott Catering sole food purveyors for the event, J&J Event Design and Chairs for Affairs who provided the overhead display, chairs and table linens, as well as The City of Walnut Creek for use of the auditorium and The Home Depot and Orchard Supply Hardware who provided decorative plants for the evening. Our corporate sponsors for this year’s event were the Coit Financial Group and Dutch Girl Cleaners.
PARTNERING WITH THE ARTS COMMUNITY
In cooperation with Broadway Plaza, the Friends sponsored Chic, a boutique showcasing the work of noted local artists with an emphasis on art-to-wear. The event was held in 2009 in the former location of David M. Bryan. Funds raised were used to purchase equipment for the Textile Arts program artisans.
In December 2009, FRIENDS hosted the Collector’s Circle in conjunction with the biannual Walnut Creek Civic Arts show and sale at the Shadelands Art Center. The catered evening with music, food, and wine featured the work of invited artists from throughout the Bay Area, raised funds for the scholarship program, and kicked off the Winter Civic Arts Sale.
Pianos for Music Program
Friends partnered with CAE music faculty and students to procure the donation of pianos and raise money for purchasing new ones. Sherman Clay Pianos was instrumental in making this a reality by providing support through fundraising concerts held at their store with volunteer student and faculty performers. The Foundation is also indebted to Justin Levitt, Manager of Sherman Clay, Walnut Creek, who performed at these concerts and other Foundation fundraisers. Through these efforts, Civic Arts Education received three uprights and one used grand piano.
By the Kids For the Kids
This student-inspired program gets young people involved in fundraising for art scholarships to benefit their peers. Two years ago Megan Fitzgerald and Frances Hughes, currently seniors at Los Lomas High School, came up with an inspired idea: They recruited nine student directors to each assemble, direct and choreograph his/her own piece, casting children and teens from the Diablo Valley community, shown at left rehearsing. In October, their musical numbers were presented, followed by a grand finale involving all the participants. Megan and Frances are now training other students to lead By the Kids For the Kids. Proceeds have benefited the Foundation’s scholarship funds and the Monument Crisis Center.
FACILITATING INDIVIDUAL SUPPORT
The Foundation also has been the facilitator of generous donations by individuals. Regina Scheiding provided funds for a printmaking press and a paper drying rack. Carole Dwinell provided money for the purchase of two credit card machines, now used at all CAE sales venues.
PARTNERING WITH THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY
The Friends Foundation applauds one of its major corporate donor, Dutch Girl Cleaners. Steve Depper, owner and president of Dutch Girl Cleaners (2094 Mt Diablo Blvd, Walnut Creek) and general manager, Michele Windsor established Running the Routefor Education as a way to give back to the community. Each month 5% of the gross profits from the dry cleaning pick-up service would be earmarked for education. The Foundation’s scholarship program was ultimately chosen as the recipient of this generous gift.
Other local businesses have provided ongoing support for the Foundation and CAE. Special event fundraisers have been hosted by Sunrise Bistro, California Pizza Kitchen, Barnes and Noble, and East Coast Pizza Bar and Grill. Most recently Walnut Creek on Ice has dedicated a portion of the ticket sales from one day of skating to the Foundation Scholarship program.
THE FOUNDATION FINANCES
In 2005, the Foundation received $45,000 in seed money from the Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation. This generous grant was the beginning of the Foundation. From 2006 to 2009, income averaged about $68,000 per year, raised primarily through ¡Viva Arts! The current fiscal year, which endedin June 2010 is not as rosy as previous years, with year-to-date donations down one-fifth.
OUR FUTURE DIRECTION
As we look to the future and seek ways to broaden our support for CAE, strengthen our ties to the local community, and further engage the support of the business community, we are working to:
- Seek “organizational development consulting” through one of the volunteer programs that assist philanthropic organizations with their growing pains;
- Obtain grant funding through private foundations, government agencies, and the business community;
- Expand the membership of the Foundation board;
- Partnering with other local non-profit organizations on projects of mutual interest; and
- Offer more opportunities for community member involvement.