SCARBOROUGH — Fueled by a $150,000 donation for arts initiatives, Superintendent of Schools George Entwistle III has formed the new Scarborough Arts Council to advocate for art in the schools.
One of their first orders of business may be to bring back the Scarborough School Art Show.
Entwistle announced the donation and formation of the council at the School Board meeting June 19.
“There’s a lot of exciting energy about it,” he told board members.
The gift came from the estate of Louis Fineberg, a long-time Scarborough resident who died a year ago at the age of 101. Fineberg had a history of making generous donations to the town, having donated $100,000 to the Scarborough Education Foundation in 2012.
Before he died, Fineberg and his wife, Tina, owned Music Mart piano shop on Congress Street in Portland for nearly 30 years.
The first donation to SEF established the Louis and Tina Fineberg Trust, with specific instructions that the money not be used for regular budget items, but for special projects to enhance student learning.
Similarly, the most recent $150,000 donation creates the Fineberg Arts Trust, which is earmarked to support arts education and advocacy, according to Jeff Jones, the attorney maintaining the Fineberg family’s estate.
Entwistle said he and high school assistant Principal Susan Ketch invited school Department staff and community members to serve on a council that would consider “seeds” of arts opportunities in schools for funding through the trust.
Among the ideas the 11-person group has entertained, perhaps the most exciting could be a revival of the Scarborough School Art Show.
The annual K-12 show, which began in 1989, was an opportunity for students across all grade levels to showcase their work each spring in a public exhibit at the high school.
Its run ended two years ago with budget cuts to the art program.
“It was a huge and marvelous community event,” School Board member Jackie Perry said.
Beth Libby, arts teacher at Wentworth Intermediate School and a member of the new council, said the show allowed students to see their artistic skills develop.
“When I’d bring my third-, fourth- and fifth-graders to see the show, they’d see the cute kindergarten art, and I’d say ‘That’s how you used to be.’ Then, they’d see the older kids and say, ‘I’ll never draw as well as these high-schoolers,’ but I’d say ‘Yes, you will,'” she recalled. “You can see children grow up in that room.”
Libby estimated the show cost $10,000 to put on each year.
“I always liken it to the artistic kids’ championship game,” she said of the show. “It was their moment to shine.”
Entwistle said he hopes the council could bring back the show “in a reinvented way” with more of a “community connection.”
Other members of the council are Kate Bolton, business director for the schools; Jeff Ertman, president of SEF; music teachers Chris Fletcher and Suzanne Proulx, and Nancy Crowell, director of the Scarborough Public Library.
The council also includes three representatives from the Piper Shores retirement community: life services Director Ginny Ketch, and residents Joanne Booth and Barrie Shepard.
The council will meet periodically throughout the summer, and is expected to select core projects and initiatives in the fall.