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Arts Foundation is expanding how it gives back.

WEST BOYLSTON -- Since 2007, the West Boylston Arts Foundation has donated around $72,000 to the school district, ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 each year, to supplement the music teacher salary at Major Edwards -- thus keeping music -- in West Boylston Schools. In 2013, that all changed.

"This is the first year (since 2007) that the district has taken that responsibility back,'' Baldi said. "So, we have more money to do other things.''

The Arts Foundation was started by a group of parents who sought to keep art and music from being cut from schools during the tough budget seasons in the mid-2000s. The premise was simple: Support arts and music in the schools by promoting arts and music in the town, with fundraisers that people would be willing to participate in, such as concerts.

Under Baldi's leadership, and as budgets have started to see line-item growth, the foundation's mission has grown to include sponsoring other cultural events, such as locally produced plays, author talks, and art and music lessons and workshops.

Its primary focus, however, remains on schools.

Last year, the group sponsored a mural painting on the stage at Major Edwards, where the school holds it concerts. The mural was designed by a high school senior, and painted by parents, staff and students.

In addition, the group spent $6,000 on new house lights at the middle/high school and created the Leo and Emily Boosahda Scholarship. That scholarship, awarded for the first time in 2013, will go to students who are moving on to study arts in college.

Recently, the foundation has been tapped to manage a proposed renovation of the middle/high school auditorium.

"The class of 1982, collectively, turns 50 this year, and they wanted to do something to give back to the town in which they all started,'' Baldi said. "They are heading up a fund drive to help rejuvenate the auditorium in the middle/high school.''

Baldi said he and members of the class have already met with Superintendent Elizabeth Schaper and received her approval to move forward.

"She agrees with the concept. (The school department) recognizes they have some age issues and could use some help,'' he said.

Planned repairs include replacing broken or missing seats, improved house lighting and functional changes, such as moving the sound board to the rear of the auditorium from its current position next to the stage.

By Michael Kane
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Title Annotation:Coulter
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 10, 2014
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