Santa Monica High School’s Barnum Hall was the venue for a benefit concert featuring Jackson Browne, Venice and Fred Martin & the Levite Camp that raised $100,000 for arts programs in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
Artists for the Arts Foundation was co-founded 1 1/2 years ago by producer Marty Carillo – who came up with the idea – and members of the band Venice, to sponsor fundraising concerts and allow 100 percent of the funds raised to go directly to “preserving, supporting and developing the arts.” Their philosophy is: “Every penny of every ticket sold stays in the community that raised it.” They are able to do this with the help of corporate sponsors, private sponsors and tremendous community involvement. They wanted to help school districts that are increasingly struggling to keep their arts programs afloat because of funding cuts.
The June 30th concert was sponsored by Santa Monica-based Yahoo! They donated $25,000, which covered all the concert’s production costs such as lighting, security, tickets and advertising.
Carillo, currently President of Artists for the Arts, stated the organization produces the show and helps secure the artists who donate their time. He hopes that in the future benefits of this type “can be held in all districts.”
Venice’s Michael Lennon mentioned that other smaller concerts have also been held and that Browne “helped do the first shows to get this program off the ground.” Last year’s show raised $60,000 which helped pay for the 2005-06 academic year’s Dream Winds program at Lincoln and John Adams Middle Schools; 3rd grade general music and 4th and 5th grade choral music at the four Title I elementary schools; and a guitar class at Olympic High School. The goal is to “sustain the arts in our community” and then “to take it nationwide.” He also mentioned that in communities where the residents can’t afford to buy expensive concert tickets they are thinking of partnering with a program called “Rock the Classroom,” which helps incorporate music into a school’s regular curriculum.
Linda Gross, Executive Director of the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, explained to the Mirror that any money raised above $60,000 would go to a permanent endowment fund to help “ensure arts funding in perpetuity.” Establishing the endowment fund is part of the foundation’s For the Arts campaign to help “ensure that every student in our public schools receives a broad introduction to the arts.” The $60,000 amount was chosen because at least that amount is needed to sustain the programs that were funded this past academic year. The endowment will support drama instruction and dance specialists for the 2006-07 school year at all three of the District’s high schools.
Gross also mentioned the foundation “ideally wants to have four concerts a year” but the “challenge is finding additional musicians” to donate their time.