Madison Project — Arts Education Outreach


The Madison Performance Series began to develop a strong arts education component, commencing in Fall 1999. The performances are all conveniently held at 12 noon during the week; specifically designed so local public and private schools can attend. The performance series enhances Santa Monica College’s mission as a community-oriented, open door institution by reaching out to the community for participation, both as performers and as audience members. These diverse, free arts education performances are also held on Saturday’s to better accommodate families.


In the opening season local public and private schools were invited to participate. Schools such as Smash, Topanga Elementary, New Roads Middle School and Grape Street Elementary attended. They were able to experience concerts by Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra, Third Optic Jazz, A Cinco de Mayo Celebration with Ballet Floklorico de Santa Monica College, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Flute Duo, and a recital by baritone, Nmon Ford-Livene. The first season introduced approximately 400 children to a variety of eclectic performance mediums.

Cinco de Mayo Celebration 2000
Ballet Folkorico de SMC

Cinco de Mayo Celebration 2000

Ballet Folkorico de SMC


In the second year, The Madison Site development office formalized a relationship with Sue Gee, Assistant Superintendent, from SMMUSD and their arts coordinator, Patricia Henderson. Through a separate city grant they were able to provide buses, so that more students could formally attend the noontime events. At each event 150-200 k-12 school children from Franklin, Madison, Grant, Lincoln, Smash, Santa Monica High School, as well as PS #1, New Roads, Topanga Elementary, the Dolphin School, and others were in attendance. At two of the concerts, an additional, specifically focused 10:30 am arts education children’s assembly was presented and preceded the public event at noon.

Shana Blake Hill — Los Angeles Opera

Shana Blake Hill — Los Angeles Opera

The artists roster included: A mini-dance festival featuring Lula Washington, tap-dancing star Mark Mendonca, and two local dance groups, The Los Angeles Master Chorale for a holiday event, a quartet from the Los Angeles Opera and a Cinco de Mayo celebration with Perla Batalla. In our second season almost 1,000 public and private school children attended.

In addition, The Santa Monica High School Chamber orchestra and the Palisades High Chamber Singers performed at the Los Angeles Master Chorale performance, fulfilling the vision of exposing young student performers to professional groups who act as mentors and artistic role models. The series also featured SMC’s own dance troupes: Synapse Dance Theater and Ballet Folklorico de Santa Monica College.

Los Angeles Master Chorale
Lula Washington Dance Theater

Los Angeles Master Chorale

Lula Washington Dance Theater


In the 3rd season, the Madison Performance Series continued to grow the arts education component of the Madison Project. At the request of SMMUSD more of the 10:30 am arts assemblies were offered to accommodate the growing numbers of schools in attendance. In addition, we launched our Fall Opera Camp and the Spring Opera Intensive through a partnership with Los Angeles Opera and the SMC Continuing Education Department.

The Madison Performance team continued the very successful relationship with the district thanks to Tom Whaley and Chandra Narain. They were able to continue providing buses, so that more students could formally attend the noontime events. At each event 150-200 K-12 school children attended from John Adams Middle School, Grant, Santa Monica High School, Malibu middle school, SMASH, Franklin, Edison, as well as PS #1, New Roads, Home away from Home, Topanga Elementary, Baldwin Hills through the Arts in the City improves Literacy program, New Bridge School and San Antonio. In addition, Malibu High participated in the Henry Mancini Youth Jazz Festival.

ETC Children's Theater

Prince Diabate Concert

Performances for the 2001-2002 season included a fantastic concert with Kora master Prince Diabate from Guinea, a brass trio from Los Angeles Philharmonic, the return of Mark Mendonca with a tap dance extravaganza, the premier performance of our new Opera camp, a Cuban celebration with Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca, and the piloting of a Jazz Youth Music Festival, in partnership with the Henry Mancini Institute, which featured local and HMI’s Community Outreach school receiving master classes and instruction, and the third annual SMC Cinco de Mayo celebration with International sensation, Lila Downs. With our added concerts, we almost doubled our outreach to include close to 2,000 students.

Crenshaw High School Jazz Band
Malibu High School Jazz Band

Crenshaw High School Jazz Band

Malibu High School Jazz Band

Community Involvement Programming

The Santa Monica College Madison Project completed a community mural project for the visual arts in 1999. In conjunction with the Santa Monica College Emeritus Program and the Santa Monica College Community Services Program, nationally established muralist Elizabeth Sadoff designed and painted a performance arts mural for the proposed site of the new theater. Santa Monica College Emeritus College and Community Service art students were given an opportunity to participate on a community mural project that involved various aged participants working together to create an indelible, visual statement of the arts.

In the second year, The Madison Project supported and arranged for ETC — a musical theater children’s program to begin teaching through the Santa Monica College Community Service. The Program introduced young people to musical theater in an after school program that culminated with a professional performance. Members of ETC performed at the Emeritus Anniversary Celebration with Broadway legend John Raitt.

ETC Children's Theater

ETC Children’s Theater

In the 3rd year, a new exciting partnership was formed with the Los Angeles Opera teaching kids the behind the scenes and on the stage look at Opera. Classes took place at the Madison Campus and included tours to the Music Center, tickets to Opera performances, and guest lectures with lighting designers, prop masters, costume designers and Opera artists. The class culminated in a performance that put kids on the stage with professional singers from LA Opera. The spring Opera Intensive for high school kids deepened the training in the one-week long program, which was held at Madison during spring break 2002. Due to several grants supporting this program we were able to give a total of 20 children full scholarships.

Here is what some of the kids said about their experiences from Opera Camp

“Thanks so much for the chance of a lifetime. I had tons of fun and it boosted my self-confidence. It has helped my musical abilities as well as behavioral abilities. Thanks again!” Esther Brotman, age 13, John Adams student

“This program has been really fun. I think this program should continue each year. It is a great way to express ourselves.” Jennifer Block, age 14, SAMOHI student

“Thank you so much for giving me a scholarship to this camp. I will be grateful for life. The camp has helped me in many aspects of performing on stage.” Nadia Kent, age 15, Home away From Home student

… and some words about the Henry Mancini Youth Music Festival

“I liked the festival because it gave me a good chance to see all of the other bands in action. I especially liked the way our band played that day. Thanks for opening us up so much!” Chris Juede (tenor sax), Malibu High School

“Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to play and hear your helpful comments. It was a very relaxed and fun time for everyone and the experience overall was very educational! Also, free food and positive feedback were nice perks. Thanks again!” Liz Cole (trumpet) Malibu High School

“Thank you for creating a relaxed atmosphere for us to play in. We all felt we learned something in the short time we stayed at the festival. I hope to attend next year.” Jason Gorn (Trumpet) Malibu High School

“We are writing to thank you for inviting our jazz band to participate in the clinic you sponsored on Friday, April 12, 2002 at the Madison Campus of Santa Monica College. The event was a rewarding one for the students and their director, Mr. Bill Bixler, as well as for the parents who were able to attend. The performance atmosphere was professional but without the competitive overtones which can make such a day less pleasurable. We want to express our deep thanks for the $500.00 scholarship check. We will use it to maintain some of the instruments and to purchase more music for the jazz band.” Debra Cole, President Malibu High School Arts Angels and Bill Bixler, Instrumental Music Director, Malibu High School


The 4th season of Madison Performance Series concerts exceeded expectations, with respect to youth outreach, thanks to a one-time transportation grant from the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division. Concerts at the Santa Monica Pier and at Madison brought larger numbers of youth and community members than our past seasons. In addition, Opera Camp continued in the fall with a new children’s opera based on the Girl of the Golden West by Puccini that takes place during the California Gold Rush.

The Madison Theater staff continued the very successful relationship with the SMMUSD district-- thanks to TomWhaley, Fine Arts Coordinator and Chandra Narain. In addition, the city grant allowed us to bring 1,000 children to the Pier for the Kirov concert.

K-12 school children attended from John Adams Middle School, Grant, Santa Monica High School, Lincoln middle school, Roosevelt, SMASH, Franklin, Edison, as well as PS #1, Topanga Mountain School, New Roads, Home Away From Home, Topanga Elementary, New Bridge School and San Antonio. Many more SMC students attended as well, including the entire class of Don Richardson’s music composition and Bill Smith’s English literature.

The Associated Students of Santa Monica College sponsored 3 events and had a bigger presence at concerts: including AS President, Luis Barrera welcoming students at the Los Angeles Master Chorale Concert at Madison.

Performances for the 2002-03 season included: The Los Angeles Master Chorale and a new commissioned piece by SMC Alumnus, Cliff Eidelman; a concert with opera artists from the Kirov/ Mariinsky Theater and a special appearance by renowned conductor, Valery Gergiev; a youth arts festival with ETC a musical theater children’s group, the 2002 Music Center Spotlight Award winner cellist, Drake Price, and the culmination of the fall Opera Camp performance The Prospector; a special reading of a new play by Keith Bunin in the Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery, which starred Alfred Molina and Glenne Hedley and was directed by academy award nominated Tom Hulce.

During the spring months, the Madison Performance Series offered multiple presentations in the community with a recital by The Rossetti String Quartet at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in March. David Haro, the great Troubadour of Veracruz, Mexico, took main stage at our fourth Cinco de Mayo family celebration at the Santa Monica Pier.

Our outreach grew close to 2,500 K-12 students and hundreds of SMC students.

2003 — 2004

Our 5th season of the Madison Performance Series ushered in the continued success and momentum we created in the previous seasons. Concerts at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, The Doheny Mansion of Mount St. Mary’s College and the Museum of Tolerance allowed us to broaden and strengthen our partnership base.

Thanks to our on-going relationship with Tom Whaley and Chandra Narain of the SMMUSD, the Performance Series continued to touch the hearts and minds of numerous children throughout the local school districts. Continued support from the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division allowed us to provide transportation for several hundred children to our events.

Performances for the 2003-2004 season included: an afternoon and evening with Jeffery Kahane and members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In the afternoon, Maestro Kahane and other members of the Chamber Orchestra led a fun and educational "teach and play" session for local students as part of our musical outreach. We also presented an evening with best-selling author Agapi Stassinopoulos in "Conversations with the Goddesses". As part of the legendary Marilyn Horne’s birthday celebration, The Madison Project teamed up with The Marilyn Horne Foundation and The DaCamera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College to share a special evening recital at the Doheny Mansion with Marilyn Horne protégé, Jennifer Aylmer. Students of our Opera Camp were in attendance for this exceptional evening of music. As part of the Madison Performance Series the critically acclaimed Opera Camp, in its third season, presented the toughing children’s opera Brundibár.

The spring brought one final, but highly educational outreach program to mark the end of the 2003-2004 season with an exclamation point. Thanks to the hard work of SMC’s Community Relations, we were able to present Actors From The London Stage. A group of classically trained Shakespearian actors took our local school kids through an afternoon of Shakespeare’s classic work "Romeo and Juliet". Students had a chance to get on stage to work with the actors and the dialogue to strengthen their understanding of language and literature.

Thus, in the five years of programming we have reached almost 10,000 students and an equal number of community members.

Opera Camp.
Marilyn Horne and Opera Camp studentss.

Brundibár — Opera Camp Fall 2003

Marilyn Horne & Opera Camp students

2004 — 2005

The 6th season of the Madison Performance Series was our most important season to date.

Not only did we look to continue to deepen the commitment of Santa Monica College’s mission as a community-oriented, open door institution by presenting more exciting programming, we also took a major step towards realizing our long-range vision of a permanent theater.

The Madison Performance Series started the season by partnering with the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation (SMPRC) as part of the “The Santa Monica Drive-In at the Pier.” The evening began with a live jazz concert by the Henry Mancini Institute Jazz Alumni Quintet and was followed by the outdoor screening of the hilarious and timeless classic “The Pink Panther.”

In October of 2004, the Madison Performance Series once again partnered with the Santa Monica Pier and presented a Mini Dance Festival. Over 500 students from the Santa Malibu Unified School District were bussed in to experience the exciting and beautiful world of Dance. The program began with enthralling performances by Lexi Pearl and Aaron Hendry and was followed by the elegant and thought-provoking style of SMC’s Synapse Dance Theater. The afternoon festival was anchored by the nationally acclaimed dance troupe - Lula Washington Dance Theatre. Lula led students and adult audience members through a captivating history of African American dance. She ended the performance by inviting audience members to the stage to learn dance moves from her professional dance troupe.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre at the Santa Monica Pier.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre
at the Santa Monica Pier

By popular demand we reprised our youth Opera Camp production of Brundibár. This marked the fourth season the Madison Project partnered with Los Angeles Opera in providing students with the opportunity to learn about the many facets of making an opera from highly trained opera professionals. The fall production of Brundibár was performed twice at the Madison Campus of Santa Monica College, twice at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion – Grand Hall, and had one final performance at The Museum of Tolerance. In total, our students performed for over 1,200 audience members including local schools, college students, community members, family, friends and neighbors. After the performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Opera Camp students received special acknowledgement from the legendary tenor and Director of Los Angeles Opera, Plácido Domingo. The children were also joined again by Ela Weissberger, who played the role of the Cat in the original performance of Brundibár when it was performed in the Terezín concentration camp during WWII.

Brundibár – Opera Camp Fall 2004
Ela Weissberger

Brundibár – Opera Camp Fall 2004

Ela Weissberger

On January 16, 2005 the Madison Project ceremoniously broke ground to begin construction on the long-awaited Performing Arts Center and Music Academy of Santa Monica College.

The festive celebration featured Dustin Hoffman, famed opera baritone Rodney Gilfry performing “Impossible Dream” and the Keith Fiddmont jazz ensemble. The event was a part of our arts outreach programming and open to the public. Audience members included SMC students, faculty and staff, local politicians, celebrities, donors, and community members. Gold shovels and construction hats were given to our distinguished supporters of the project.

January 2005, Groundbreaking Ceremony
(l-r) Dale Franzen, Dustin Hoffman and Renzo Zecchetto (Architect)

January 2005, Groundbreaking Ceremony

(l-r) Dale Franzen, Dustin Hoffman
and Renzo Zecchetto (Architect)

The Madison Project’s groundbreaking event opened the door for an amazing 2005.

Due to the growth and success ofthe Madison Project’s youth Opera Camp,Maestro Kent Nagano (Music Director of Los Angeles Opera) invited our organization to participate in the premiere of Manzanar: An American Story.

Manzanar: An American Story was an inspiring multi-media event that illustrated the evolution of civil liberty in America through the World War II Japanese American internment camp experience. The production featured the American Youth Symphony (the 76-piece highly acclaimed youth orchestra based in Los Angeles), several noted personalities – actor Martin Sheen, the honorable Senator Daniel Inouye, Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi and actors Pat Suzuki, Sab Shimano and John Cho participated as readers weaving text through the music, and the Santa Monica College Chamber Choir joined with the Manzanar Youth Choir (composed of 35 young students).

Maestro Nagano envisioned a multi-ethnic youth choir similar to our Opera Camp program, and so the Madison Project formed the Manzanar Youth Choir for this event. Children were recruited fromall over Los Angeles with some coming from as far away as Mission Viejo and Santa Clarita. We specifically reached out to economically and educationally disadvantaged youth who may otherwise never have had a chance to experience an artistic opportunity such as this.

As part of the arts education element of the Manzanar Youth Choir, we took our students to the actual Manzanar internment site (in central California) to witness the annual pilgrimage and ceremony honoring the people of Manzanar. The experience allowed our choir members to make a connection with the past and learn how it relates to present day events with respect to civil liberties, race relations, tolerance and diversity to enhance their overall experience and understand the music on a deeper level.

The final community/educational portion of the Manzanar Youth Choir came on June 2nd, 2005 when our youth performed with the entire cast and orchestra at UCLA’s Royce Hall for 1,500 underserved school children as part of UCLA’s “Design for Sharing” arts education program, followed by a sold-out evening performance in front of a general audience of 1,800 people.

Manzanar Youth Choir (MYC) 2005
Maestro Kent Nagano at MYC rehearsal

Manzanar Youth Choir (MYC) 2005

Maestro Kent Nagano at MYC rehearsal

In 2004-2005, we reached large numbers (several thousand) within the community and local schools with our events at the Santa Monica Pier as well as from our 5 performances of Brundibár and the success of Manzanar: An American Story.


In Fall of 2005, the Madison Performance Series kicked off its 7th season of free community concerts with an invitation to be one of the presenters of the World Festival of Sacred Music. This prestigious event is held every three years in Los Angeles featuring music from around the world. The Madison Project partnered with the Santa Monica Pier in presenting the “World Jewish Music Fest”. This exciting, outdoor, family event at the Santa Monica Pier (part of the city-wide World Festival of Sacred Music), celebrated the rich and varied sounds of Jewish artistry, and its wide range of styles. The eclectic afternoon featured Stefani Valadez whose Ladino music expresses the Spanish and North African Sephardic tradition. The event also featured the high-flying, irrepressible Hollywood Klezmer trio under the direction of Russian clarinetist Leo Chelyapov. Folkdance expert James Zimmer led the entire audience in traditional Jewish folk dancing and a classical duet featuring acclaimed violinist Ami Levy and Robert Korda, performing new and established work, rounded out the afternoon.

Of the 43 events put on by the World Festival of Sacred Music, the Madison Project’s “World Jewish Music Fest” had one of the highest attendances with over 600 people joining us.

World Jewish Music Fest – Ladino dancer

World Jewish Music Fest – Ladino dancer