Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

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Venice High Arts Guild Receives WIN Grant

Grant Reception Portrait (from left to right): Venice High Arts Guild Chairperson Larry Hudson, WIN Committee President Allison Segan, WIN Grant Committee Chairperson Lauren Kurzweil, and Venice High Arts Guild Secretary Susan Malerstein-Watkins
WIN Grant Award- Scott Sutherland
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The Venice High Arts Guild, a committee of the Venice High Alumni Association, has received a grant to replace the sound system in the auditorium. 

The new sound system in the auditorium will benefit Venice’s theater program and clubs at Venice for performances and plays. It will also aid faculty meetings and announcements to inform students about issues or new developments about the school.

The grant, which amounted to over $19,000, came from an organization called Women Inspiring NextGen, which gives organizations supporting school-aged children, according to Susan Malerstein-Watkins, who is a member of the Venice High Arts Guild. 

The auditorium went through a major restoration in 2022 after having been closed for seven years until late 2023. “Even though it was reopened the restoration did not include the infrastructure upgrades it needed to support school events,” Malerstein-Watkins said.

According to Larry Hudson, chairperson of the Venice High Arts Guild, said the grant money will go to purchasing a digital sound board, monitors, subwoofers, and other equipment to enhance the sound quality both on stage and for the audience.

Venice High Arts Guild Chairperson Larry Hudson and Venice High Arts Guild Secretary Susan Malerstein-Watkins

The plan is for the new additions to be delivered prior to the end of the school year and put to use at the start of the next school year in August 2024, said Malerstein Watkins.

Hudson and Malerstein-Watkins, who are a part of the 13-member committee, dedicate their work to improving the arts for Venice High.

“Our mission is to raise money for the Arts at Venice High School. We raise money and give cash to the teachers to purchase supplies that they need. ” Hudson said.

Both Hudson and Malerstein-Watkins attended Venice 50 years ago. Just five years ago, Malerstein-Watkins reunited with Grant Francis, a former Stage Crew teacher, and started a subcommittee of the Venice High Alumni Association, which had already been raising money for scholarships for 70 years.

When Hudson and Malerstein-Watkins went to Venice High, the school district had more money to spend on the arts. However, in the past 50 years, L.A.U.S.D cut back on funding and the arts programs were deeply affected.

“When we went to Venice, there was a marching band with over 125 kids,” Malerstein-Watkins said. “We had choirs, dance programs, madrigals, massive arts programs, a ceramics class, a fine arts class, and a sewing class that made costumes for plays. We used to do a huge musical once a year and a drama play at the beginning of the year. We had so much available to us. Then the cutbacks changed everything.”

Part of the agreement for the grant from WIN is that they will be following the use of the sound system for three years to make sure the new equipment is used as stated in the grant application. 

The Venice High Arts Guild was represented by Hudson, Malerstein-Watkins, and music department chair Scott Sutherland when they received the check last Saturday at an award luncheon. The event took place at the Leo Baeck Temple in Brentwood. There is also a plaque honoring the Women Inspiring NextGen contribution, which will be installed in the foyer of the auditorium.

Music Department Head, Venice High Arts Guild Scott Sutherland

Before the received grant, Hudson and Sutherland compiled a list of needed sound equipment that could really serve the auditorium and the school.

Sutherland, the instrumental and music teacher, said he was approached by the Venice Arts Guild and offered a chance to upgrade his current mixers, speakers, and overall sound equipment.

“We could definitely use a new digital mixer,” he said. “We don’t have any way to get signals to and from the stage without running a big wire underneath the audience seats, which we have been doing for concerts already. So having something buried in the ceiling and making it work would be nice. We also want newer technology from what we have been using for years.”

Sutherland is thrilled about the grant.

“The Arts Guild’s mission is to support arts at Venice, both visual arts and performing arts,” he said. “They found me early on and asked ‘How can we help?’ I’m grateful to have them in our corner providing that level of support.”

Hudson and other members of the Venice High Arts Guilt are also excited and honored to be a part of the resurgence of all the arts programs at Venice High. 

“The energy and commitment from the arts faculty and students alike ensures the arts and auditorium’s future is bright,” he said. “The Venice High community is grateful to Women Inspiring NextGen for their generous grant.” 

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