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Arts Funding the Arts: Academy aims to support Orcutt arts programs

by Santa Maria Times


The small students at first seemed a little unsure of the steps, but then happily stretched and crossed one leg in front of the other as their dance teacher had instructed.

The first- through third-graders were in their second day of dance class Tuesday at Orcutt Arts Academy, learning a history of ballet and modern dance, with jazz, hip hop, theater and tap to come later this week.

Seventeen sock-footed students dipped, twirled and stretched out on the carpet of a Joe Nightingale Elementary School classroom that was transformed into a dance studio for the first-ever summer arts academy put on by the Orcutt Children’s Art Foundation.

Hannah Rubalcava, a parent in the Orcutt Union School District and executive director of OCAF, brought her 4-year-old daughter, Sophia, to watch the class that she hoped would help raise more money for arts education in the district.

Orcutt parents and concerned citizens formed OCAF 10 years ago when the state stopped funding the arts, Rubalcava said, and the four-week academy is supposed to add to the $75,000 OCAF raised last year through its winter gala and other fundraisers.

OCAF funds about 90 percent of Orcutt arts education, with help from school Parent Teacher Associations.

“Arts funding the arts,” Rubalcava said Tuesday, explaining that OCAF would like to recruit each of the district’s 2,200 families for a $10 membership and eventually offer the program after school and during school breaks.

“Most people think of art as a kind of luxury,” she said. “There’s so much that the arts offers.”

Enrollment for painting and drawing last week was huge, she said, but vacant slots remained in dance class this week.

Spots are still open in next week’s 3-D sculpture classes and in the following week’s theater classes.

“That really hurt …” said second-grader Alexander Johnson on Tuesday, before smiling and quickly shifting from one stretching pose to the next.

Moments earlier, he and dancing buddy Tanner Poulis, a third-grader, were feeling the music and coming up with their own moves to go along with modern dance teachings of Monique Segura, an Orcutt kindergarten teacher who teaches dance at Hancock College.

“Not everybody’s an athlete,” Segura said after class, emphasizing the importance of finding a child’s own creative outlet.

Debra Hood, a parent and OCAF officer, said joining the academy and OCAF is a great way to contribute to the arts education children are already receiving.

“Invest in that,” Hood said. “Realize the value. We need to continue to foster thinking outside the box.”

Registration for academy classes, offered to first-through third-graders in the morning and fourth- through sixth-graders in the afternoon, is $135 per week for an OCAF member and $150 per week for non-members.

Parents can register their children at the Campus Connection office at 500 Dyer St. in Orcutt, or call 938-8950 for more information.

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