"Historically, we are all held responsible for passing, from one generation to the next, the knowledge and insights we have learned ourselves throughout our lives....that is the essence of "teaching". Culturally, that process has evolved into formal schools and structured institutions of education which require "funding". Where that money goes is always the big question and there never seems to be enough to go around....especially in the case of the "Arts". Consequently there is a need for supplemental funding sources like AFTAF. In addition to parents and sponsors close to the students, it requires creative outside ideas to help raise funds, and this annual AFTAF event is an excellent example of how to fill some of the need. It is incredibly well organized and advertised, reaching out to all the local resources to make it a success every year. They are able to attract an array of talent to put together a truly entertaining evening every year, and this year was no exception.

Gerry and I had a wonderful and satisfying experience with the student artists in the choir and orchestra, together with Venice, Richard Page, and the incomparable David Crosby who was participating in his second event...it was a magical night for all. I think I can speak for David, Richard and Gerry when I say that Kipp, Michael, Mark & Pat of Venice brought the musical presentation together with their incredible singing and playing talents, and the enthusiasm from the audience and all onstage was a truly joyous experience. Everyone benefited in one way or another...and we are proud to be able to say that the effort helped to raise money for the continuing process of passing along our combined love of the "Arts" to the next generation...at least for one night! Thank you to all who participated and attended."

--- Dewey Bunnell


"For me and people like me, the music, theater and arts programs in school were the only thing that mattered. Period. Sure, I would show up for my other classes, but that was just a duty I needed to accomplish and simply move on. High school is the time and place for many of us where we truly discover what it is we want to give our souls to. If there weren't enough funds to keep the math, English or science departments running, I'm sure something would be done. Sadly, the arts are where the cuts often start and this, for so many talented young people, is tragic. Who are we without our music, theater and art? I encourage everyone to get involved with supporting the arts programs in our schools. Especially the many talented and successful artists today who owe a lot to their former teachers and mentors."

--- Richard Page
Mr. Mister


"It's not so much as a professional performer / artist that I come to support the private sectors involvement in arts programs for the schools.  It's more as an individual who truly believes that the arts and our endeavoring to be artistic and teach our children in the ways of artistic endeavor is what makes us uniquely human.  In the same way that say science and spirituality define us, the arts help us to further understand, more deeply, our humanity both as a culture and as individuals.

I also believe that it's the private sectors responsibility to understand that governments support will, as in all things, ebb and flow and we can therefore never completely depend on it as a source of not only financial support but insight and direction.  These efforts to support arts in schools are some of the most socially important functions being organized today in our communities around the country.  

The folks who work tirelessly around the clock and calendar to put on these events annually are the ones who should be applauded.  The rest of us should just make sure we show up once in awhile to help."



"Hello Friends,

It was two days ago since I wrote about the "Artists For The Arts" benefit concert and I am still buzzing from it. 

Featuring student musicians and singers from Agoura High School and Calabasas High School, Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross and I with the invaluable help of our hosts, opening act and backing group Venice this was a uniquely riveting concert. 

First of all Kipp, Mark, Michael and Pat Lennon and the rest of the band not only performed their own songs at the beginning of the show, but learned all the songs the rest of us sang and you'd've thought we'd rehearsed for a week to perform them together.  They made it look very easy, but believe me, it was a lot of work.

The student musicians were top notch, not only in their musicianship but in their talent as performers.  They were laying it all out there, leaving it all on the stage, giving the audience their money's worth. They were driving the show.

I played 5 songs, including "Sing For the Day, Fooling Yourself, Cost of Freedom/Can't Find My Way Home, Blue Collar Man and Renegade."  The Calabasas Choir joined me on "Sing For The Day, Blue Collar Man and Renegade," although they'd only rehearsed "Sing For The Day."  The worked up "Blue Collar Man and Renegade" right after soundcheck.  They blew me away.

Michael McDonald cannot sing a bad note.  It just does not seem to be in his DNA.  "I Keep Forgettin', Minute By Minute, Ain't No Mountain High Enough/Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing..." and this is with Venice, the Calabasas Choir, and the Agoura High School Orchestra.  It was HUGE.  Christopher Cross joined them and sang "Ride Like The Wind, Laura, and Sailing" before I joined them on the encore "Takin' it to the Streets."  I knew Christopher had a beautiful voice, but that Texas boy is also a shredding guitar player! The place was up for grabs by the then.  It was Rock/Soul overload and those in the audience got to enjoy a one night only performance that none of them or us will ever forget.

I would like to thank Venice and all the folks from the Artists for the Arts Foundation for all that they do to provide music education to our schools, and for allowing me to participate in this amazing night of music. "

--- Tommy Shaw


"It's amazing because every year we do this gig we get to work with kids and do something special. We do it once…when people come to see one of these shows, they're going to see a completely different show than what they saw last year. There are a lot of surprises."

"The guitar players are really in their own little world…and when they look up from their own little part and they hear the sound, that's really a metaphor for what the whole program is; you see how you fit together in the whole. You see how your part fits in with everybody else's part to make a whole and it's a metaphor for all of society. I think it's very fulfilling to do these shows, really. "

"Arts in high school are really important. Arts make the individual complete. Arts connect us to the rest of society. They give us a chance to express ourselves and to channel our emotions…and to have a healthy emotional life you have to have an outlet for that. And arts, like sports, are really important for people who are developing."

--- Jackson Browne


"It's a proven fact in the books that, music in the schools makes kids stay in school longer, get better grades, get in trouble less, drop out less, go to college more…these are all by large percentages, not small. It's a well known fact. So how could we possibly not want to give our kids a great musical education because it helps them with everything else, including their life. I'm all for it."

--- David Crosby


"Artists For The Arts Foundation is a very unique non-profit. Their Board members are wonderful, compassionate people who help raise money for arts education in public schools because they recognize the value that the arts bring to students' lives. The concerts they produce are incredible; they incorporate high school students in the show and give them the opportunity of a lifetime -- to perform onstage with professional musicians! Our organization has raised more than $300,000 from three different AFTAF concerts!"

--- Linda Gross
Executive Director
Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation For The Arts


"I just wanted to say it one more time...THANK YOU!! My students and I had so much fun working with all of you. My students said things like, "I can't believe this is really happening" and "look at Barnum Hall, this is MY school". I kept thinking about the fact that while we were raising funding AND awareness for the Arts, we were also giving these students the incredible opportunity of participating in a professional performance experience with legendary stars and professionals all around. It was an incredible event and I want to thank all of you for all your generous amount of time and talent that you shared to make it happen. I can't wait to see what we come up with for next year!"

--- Tom Whaley
Fine Arts Coordinator
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District


"By far, this was one of the best concerts we have ever attended! What an incredible night! You packed the house! What a great benefit for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District as well. The donation of $150,000 to the districts education foundation is a great tribute to the work you and the Artists For The Arts Foundation has done with this popular fundraising event. I will pass along my encouragement and recommendation...in support of a similar event for our district."

--- Joe Nardo
Assistant Superintendent
Las Virgenes Unified School District


"AFTAF is a great organization. Their commitment to arts in the schools is just wonderful. And the partnership between them and the Education Foundation and For The Arts is really wonderful and strong. We've learned a lot from each other. "

--- Ralph Mechur
Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education


"If this class wasn't here, I think a lot of the people you see in this room right now wouldn't be here. I think they would probably be ditching or doing the stuff that we normally do, but because the guitar class is here it gives us more motivation to show up for school."

--- Steven Bravo
Guitar Class Student
Olympic High School


"For me, music is what I go to when I'm feeling down or I'm feeling beaten by life. High school these days is pretty intense for teenagers and to have that release, to have that ability to play music and to learn music is such a great thing. I'm so thankful for that because I don't know where I'd be right now if I didn't have music."

--- Davey Martinez
Orchestra Student
Santa Monica High School


"Teaching these kids has been a real pleasure. It's really given me a lot of meaning in my life."

--- Mark Harris
Olympic High School Guitar Teacher & Member of VENICE


"Sometimes our core goals in education have somehow been distorted to leverage them against creativity. And we all know that creativity and learning goes hand in hand. The arts are a core aspect of any meaningful learning. And what we're really asking for is creativity in the learning process; creativity that will inspire children to study and to learn. The arts are a part of our culture, part of creativity and innovation…and in that way they are crucial to any meaningful, high standard of quality education..."

--- Dr. Amy Shimshon-Santo
UCLA Arts Bridge


"Arts education is essential. It's important to reinstate the arts in the schools because taking away that creative impulse in your daily life would make a very sad school day."

--- Asuka Hisa
Director of Education
Santa Monica Museum of Art

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