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Park City Education Foundation’s art initiative gives kids creative outlet

Martin Bureau

Park City Education Foundation gives students access to the arts and says donating even $1 will make a big difference in its annual fundraiser.

Theeducation foundation says funding Park City schools is a challenge because 96% of state-collected education tax goes to other districts.

To help, the foundation funds eight signature initiatives developed to inspire all Park City students to successfully reach their academic potential. Within the eight initiatives are more than 100 programs they support annually.

According to Jen Billow, vice president of advancement, art is one such priority. “People might not realize that Utah did away with elementary art funding in the ‘80s. If you had a teacher who was really great at art, maybe your kiddo would get art, or there was a parent who taught masterpieces and an art program for volunteers, but that kind of waxed and waned depending on who was leading it.” 

PCEF is collaborating with the Kimball Art Center with the Elementary Visual Arts (EVA) program at three of the four elementary schools; Jeremy Ranch chose not to participate due to a previously existing art program.

“So the students get at least a monthly professionally-taught art lesson and with an artist that is inspiring. So whether it's, you know, Degas or a local Indigenous artist every month, there's a different artist and the work is inspired and taught by the teachers. So that's been wonderful," she said.

The PCEF is also actively hiring for a new CEO while juggling its school-year fundraiser. It is asking parents to give $1 per school day which equals $180 and about $1.5 million annually in funding.

“We have competitions between the schools," said Billow. "The UPS Store is a sponsor, and they will give the schools with the highest participation big grants. And it's based on participation. So it doesn't matter how much you give, you can give $1. People can also join Scholar Circle at this time of year, which is our membership program of $1,000 or more per year.”

She said these fundraisers help ensure every family has access to its programs. “And what's great about art is that not every student excels in every class, and art is somewhere where your creativity can really shine and where maybe you're not doing the best in English or math, but you can really feel successful in art.” 

Successful in art and, as the foundation hopes, in life.