Arnaz, Batt, Mendez, Vilanch And More Appear In TOGETHER WE CAN! Televised Special To Save The Arts In Palm Springs Schools
The Palm Springs Unified School District and CBS-Local 2 have teamed up to present "Together We Can: A Celebration Of Arts Education", a commercial-free, hour-long televised variety special on Saturday, June 27 at 7:00 pm. The production is produced, staged and directed by David Green, founder and Director of Musical Theatre University, which is one of the school district's most treasured arts programs. "Together We Can" is co-hosted by Emmy Winning Comedian and Actor Bruce Vilanch and local CBS Personality Patrick Evans and will showcase the PSUSD's vibrant performing and visual arts programs and make the case for the critical need for arts education in our schools, as the district faces probable budget cuts due to the Covid-19 crisis. This special event is the kick-off to a year-long fundraising campaign by The Foundation For The Palm Springs Unified School District called "Together We Will; Protect The Arts".
"Together We Can: A Celebration Of Arts Education" will feature performances by the talented young performers of Musical Theatre University and the districts four high schools, all taped live at The Purple Room in Palm Springs under strict social-distancing protocols. There will be special appearances by veterans of Broadway and Hollywood telling their own personal stories about the importance of arts education and how special teachers helped to lift them to success. Guest stars include Loni Ackerman (Broadway's "Evita"), Lucie Arnaz (Stage, Film and Television Actress), Bryan Batt ( Broadway's "Saturday Night Fever" and TV's "Mad Men"), Joyce Bulifsnt ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show"), Alix Korey (Broadway Veteran "Chicago"), Larry Luckinbill (Stage and Film Actor), Gavin MacLeod (Stage and Television Actor), Karen Mason (Broadway Veteran "Mamma Mia"), Phil McKinley (Broadway Director, "The Boy From Oz"), Lindsay Mendez (Tony Award Winner and TV's "All Rise"), Kurt Peterson (Broadway Veteran, "Follies" and "West Side Story") and Rex Smith (Stage, Film and Television Actor, and Recording Artist).
"COVID-19 has had a devastating financial impact on all public schools nationally, including Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD). PSUSD Is looking at a $24 million budget shortfall", said Ellen Goodman, Director of The Foundation. "Our district has been a committed arts equity district, and was recently acknowledged by the County of Riverside as only one of two arts equity districts. This recognition energized The Foundation for the Palm Springs Unified School District to raise money to save arts education and protect the arts".
David Green's Musical Theatre University (MTU) is a comprehensive, after-school conservatory designed for high school students, selected by audition from the four district high schools who have aspirations for careers in professional theatre. The program is sponsored and presented by The Palm Springs Unified School District so that the education is provided free of charge to the participants, When space allows, students from neighboring school districts are also invited to participate in MTU. The MTU faculty is comprised of Broadway and Hollywood Veterans and the MTU students, in addition to their classroom instruction, have the opportunity to perform in three MainStage musicals each school year working alongside Broadway Veterans in rehearsal and performance. Mr. Green's alumni include Tony Winners Stephanie Block and Lindsay Mendez, Tony Nominees Susan Egan and Matthew Morrison and more.
"We are so excited to present, in this fast-paced hour of entertainment and great stories from Broadway and Hollywood Veterans, a showcase for the Visual And Performing Arts students throughout the district", said David Green, MTU's founder and director. "This district offers visual and performing arts education and experiences to every student in every school, K-12. I have never come across more dedicated, passionate or talented arts teachers in all my years in arts education than are teaching in the schools of The PSUSD. We cannot let the arts become a casualty of the pandemic in our schools. It is my hope that this television special will make the case for the need for arts in our schools and generate the necessary donor revenue to protect them".
Along with the student performances and celebrity reflections, "Together We Can" will feature the artwork of dozens of PSUSD students, and the opportunity to hear from several of the dedicated team of Visual And Performing Arts teachers about what a difference an arts education makes in the lives of their students. "it's not a telethon", said Green. "It is an entertainment special that, I think, will touch the hearts of everyone who tunes in. We hope that people will walk away knowing how important that the teaching of the arts in our schools is for our children.It is more than singing and dancing and drawing and acting lessons. The arts are critical to the well-rounded education of every young person and teaches them values and skills that will help them succeed in school, and succeed in life".
Studies show that young people who participate regularly in the arts are four times more likely to stay engaged in school and earn their high school diploma. They are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to have fewer discipline problems, higher attendance, and higher test scores. Instruction in the arts helps students at all ages to develop creative problem-solving skills. Teaching through the arts can present difficult concepts visually, making them more easy to understand. Arts instruction helps children with the development of motor skills, language skills, social skills, decision-making, risk-taking, and inventiveness. Arts experiences boost critical thinking and build confidence.
KESQ/CBS Local-2 has donated the commercial-free airtime for this special event and has embraced the opportunity to assist the school district in raising awareness and monies to support arts education. "Together We Can: A Celebration Of Arts Education" will be streamed, simultaneously, on multiple social media platforms so he broadcast is available to a national, and international, audience.
"To save and protect the arts in our public schools in this difficult time, it will take the participation of every arts enthusiast, every arts professional, every inspiring artist, and everyone who knows that arts education is critical in expanding a young person's creative mind", said Goodman.
For more information about the "Together We Can" television special and the Palm Springs Unified School Districts' Visual and Performing Arts programs visit www.psusdfoundation.net. To make a contribution to Save the Arts in the PSUSD, Text PSUSDarts to 50155 or visit www.psusdfoundation.net/donate.