Vero News

Museum’s Circle of Friends funds educational outreach programs

VERO BEACH – As it did last year, the Artist in the School Educational Outreach Program received an additional boost from members of the Museum’s Circle of Friends, an offshoot of its Friends Committee. 

A concerned group of ladies formed the Circle last year upon learning that Florida had cut arts funding from the state budget. Following a concept similar to that of Impact 100, members annually contribute $250 and have a say in determining which of the Museum’s numerous outreach programs will receive their funding.

This year the Circle of Friends, co-chaired by Diane Wilhelm and Margaret Goembel, enlisted the support of 87 women to raise $21,750.

In prior meetings, following site visits by volunteers, members met and decided on three programs for the final vote.  Finalists were the Artist in the School program, where teaching artists visit and work with teachers before and after Museum field trips and with students on their visits, Transportation Grants which help cover the expense of buses and substitute teachers for trips to the Museum, and Summer Camp Scholarships, for those who might not otherwise be able to attend the summer sessions.

“Education is at the heart of what we do,” said Lucinda Gedeon, Museum Director/CEO in welcoming the women to their final meeting.  “Thank you for all you have done for the Museum and for making a difference in the community.”

While their votes were being tallied, the ladies moved out to the lovely new atrium, where they enjoyed a cocktail party sponsored by Maya Peterson.  Although all agreed the programs were equally deserving of support, several women were happy to share the rationale behind their particular votes.

“I voted for transportation, because it’s one of the things the school district cuts first,” said Susan Smith.  “If the school district can’t afford it, and if it’s not funded somehow, the kids can’t come.

As an artist herself, Sharon Sandel said she voted for the Artist in the School Program.

“I’m the one who challenged the group to bring every fourth-grader to the Museum, like the Indian River Symphonic Association does with its fifth-grade concert,” said Sandel.  “They’re 10-years-old; old enough to understand what you’re telling them, but young enough to not be smart alecks. They’re sponges at that age.”

Gretchen Hanson stressed the importance of the summer camp scholarships, saying, “I think it’s a program that needs to be expanded for a broader reach into the community.”

“Seven hundred some-odd children attend the camps and there are only about 30 that get a scholarship; I want to see that number expand to have many more,” said Hanson.  “So many children in Vero are symbolic of the basic issue of what to do with children in the summer.  It’s important to expose them to art and to focus on their unique talents.”

In announcing the results, Wilhelm noted that Summer Camp Scholarships, as the second highest vote-getter, will receive any funds not needed by the Artist in the School Program.

In addition to the funds they have generated, the Circle of Friends have also helped to make more people aware of the outreach programs, and the educational opportunities they provide to those who might not otherwise have access to the arts. {igallery 371}

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