Saved from the Background – Spotlight Arts Center teaches the arts to children, tuition free
What sort of education do I want my children to have? Which extracurriculars should they take? Should they have a pet? For many parents, these questions are commonplace. But for others, more pressing questions are forced to take their place: how will I feed my children? How long will their clothes hold up before they’ll need new ones? But when necessity forces extracurricular and the arts to the background, the Spotlight Arts Center there to help bring them back to the forefront.
“The mission is to make performing arts available to all children in Santa Clarita regardless of their financial situation, their home situation, or their learning abilities,” said Lisa West, the executive director of Spotlight Arts Center, in an interview with élite Magazine. The arts center offers free classes in dance, fitness, music, acting, and visual arts. And for a small fee, private lessons in music, dance, art and theatre are also available. Children can begin taking classes as early as three years old through the preshow program, and all the way through college. Some of these college students even become mentors and assistant teachers. However, the center didn’t always act as a non-profit.
In 2013, Spotlight Arts Center opened its doors as a for-profit institution, with scholarships available to families in financial need. But before long, those in charge realized that most of the kids involved in the program needed scholarships. So in 2014, the arts center applied for non-profit status. Everyone who works for the center does so on a volunteer basis, including the executive director; “Every resources goes back into the program.”
Spotlight Arts Center does two things that make it stand out from similar non-profits. First, the classes are paid for not by tuition, government handouts or the donations of individual community members, but through sponsorships from local small businesses. What’s more, each sponsoring business is responsible for funding a certain class, thus connecting businesses directly with the children they’re helping. For example, Rachael Cleveland of Augusta Financial sponsors the Acting II classes, while Bri Waterman of Realty Executives sponsors the Show Choir classes. The second thing that Spotlight Arts Center does, setting itself apart, is the involvement expected from the parents. While the center provides its classes free of tuition, it isn’t merely a free daycare – the parents, not just their children, need to be involved.
Since its inception in 2013, the arts center has positively affected numerous families throughout Santa Clarita. For example, one of the first families involved in the program was that of a single mother and her three daughters. Since the beginning, they were eager to support the arts center in a number of ways, such as painting walls. Four years later, all three children are still involved in the program – the oldest, now in high school, is involved in music, the middle child in dance, and the youngest in acting. They not only take advantage of the program, but also use the skills they’ve learned to help others in the program, as well as the community. For example, the oldest daughter has started open mic nights throughout the community.
While not as tangibly beneficial as food, clothes and transportation, learning artistic skills such as music, dance and acting can help build confidence, character and hard work, and even open up opportunities in the future. Unfortunately, not all parents are financially able to provide these to their children. But because of nonprofits like Spotlight Arts Center, these opportunities are nonetheless available to many.
For those interested in learning more about or donating to Spotlight Arts Center, their website is www.spotlightartscenter.org, and their phone number is 661-388-0338. Their address is 23502 Lyons Ave, Suite 101, Newhall.