SPARC and Montgomery & Gaff Release New LIVE ART Short Film

SPARC and Montgomery & Gaff Release New LIVE ART Short Film

The School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) and award-winning documentary filmmakers Martin Montgomery and Bill Gaff have released a new, 9-minute short film about SPARC's LIVE ART program, "LIVE ART: Through the Artists' Eyes." The film can be viewed on YouTube at

Their previous short film, "The LIVE ART Story," won the national PBS 2013 Online Film Festival after being nominated to the contest by Richmond's public broadcasting station, WCVE.

This new short film allows viewers to hear directly from the featured guest performers on SPARC's LIVE ART: Tree of Life concert on December 22, 2013, which performed to a sold-out crowd of over 3,400 at Richmond's Altria Theater. Artists k.d. lang, Jason Mraz, Christina Perri, Richard Jenkins, Robbin Thompson, Susan Greenbaum, and more share their passion and enthusiasm for the experience of performing with this inclusive group of young people.

In addition to these short films, Montgomery and Gaff have created a feature-length documentary film which currently is in post-production. Release of this feature film is expected in 2014.

About LIVE ART: LIVE ART is more than just a concert event. 120 students with a range of developmental disabilities (autism, Williams syndrome, Down syndrome), hearing and vision impairment participate in inclusive performing arts classes alongside typically developing students. Through weekly classes led by a collaboration of over 40 professional teaching artists, arts educators and special educators, students explore innovative ways of combining art forms: dance with computer technology, visual art, music theory, dance with paint, creative writing, spoken word, photography, acting, set design, singing, and performance.

The students' engagement in the arts expands their self-awareness, awareness of others, and range of emotional contact, physical self-control, and empathy. Each class collectively performs their visual and performance art with the featured musicians in the LIVE ART concert.

SPARC was recently awarded its first-ever grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of the LIVE ART program.

All students participate in LIVE ART tuition-free, thanks to major project funding by the Stanley and Kim Markel Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia. Additional sponsors of the most recent LIVE ART concert included Altria, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, E.J. Wade Foundation, 50 Church Street Productions, Williams & Sherrill, and many more.

About SPARC: Since its founding in 1981, SPARC has served more than 14,000 children with a variety of programs for children ages 3 - 18. These include in-school arts education, after-school enrichment programs, an inclusive arts education program for children with special needs, an acclaimed statewide high school playwriting program, and summer camps. Course offerings encompass music, dance, acting and theatre production for beginners to advanced students. SPARC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and one of the nation's most comprehensive, community-based performing arts education organizations, providing valuable life skills to children through high-quality programs.

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