k.d lang to Perform at SPARC's "Live Art: Tree of Life" Event


k.d. lang will be joining Jason Mraz along with other prominent recording artists and featured musicians to perform visual and performance art with children of all abilities in "LIVE ART: Tree of Life," to be held Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 6:00pm at the Landmark Theater in Richmond, VA. Produced and directed by the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC), “LIVE ART: Tree of Life” tickets will be available to the general public online and through the CenterStage box office on June 28, 2013 at 10:00am.

LIVE ART’s featured musicians will also include singer-songwriter Christina Perri, songwriter and jazz vocalist Rene Marie, singer-songwriter and Independent Music Award winner Robbin Thompson, nationally recognized keyboardist Daniel Clarke (Modern Groove Syndicate), soulful singer-songwriters Steve Bassett, Susan Greenbaum and Jesse Harper, conductor/arranger Samson Trinh and his Upper East Side Big Band, and stellar singer and banjoist Josh Small. 

LIVE ART is more than just a concert event.  For eleven months, 120 students with a range of developmental disabilities (autism, Williams syndrome, Down syndrome), hearing and vision impairment participate in performing arts classes alongside typically developing students. Through weekly classes, including summer workshops and a collaboration of over 40 professional teaching artists, arts educators and special educators, students explore innovative ways of combining art forms such as: dance with computer technology, visual art, music theory, dance with paint, creative writing, spoken word, photography, acting, set design, singing, and performance.  The students’ engagement in the arts expands their self-awareness, awareness of others, and range of emotional contact, physical self-control, and empathy. Each class will collectively perform their visual and performance art with the featured musicians in the LIVE ART: Tree of Life concert in the Landmark Theater.

LIVE ART demonstrates a rare, expansive partnership, uniting nonprofits across multiple sectors, public and private schools, and government.  Community partners include the Faison School of Autism, Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Richmond Ballet’s Minds in Motion, The Richmond Boys Choir, JAMinc., the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, Collegiate School, Northstar Academy, St. Catherine’s and St. Christopher’s School(s), The Visual Arts Center, Dreamers Theater and area public school systems. 

LIVE ART was created in 2011 by Erin Thomas-Foley, SPARC’s Director of Education. In her 16th year with SPARC, Erin’s work has garnered such awards as one of Belle Magazine’s Women of the Year in Arts for 2013, the YWCA’s Outstanding Woman in Arts for 2013, and one of Virginia’s Most Influential Women in 2013 from Virginia Lawyers Media. Thomas-Foley’s vision and inspiration have acquired strong support from artists, musicians, educators, students, families, donors, and community partners.

A full-length documentary film that details the creation and launch of LIVE ART is currently in post-production. Filmmakers Martin Montgomery and Bill Gaff are creating this film to help share the power of this program. The short film, a trailer for the full-length documentary, recently won first place in the PBS National Online Short Film Festival.  

All students are participating tuition-free, thanks to major project funding by the Stanley and Kim Markel Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia.  Additional sponsors include the Virginia Commission for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Jane & Rick Costello, Williams & Sherrill, Pam & Bruce Belleman, The Felmus Family, Drs. Anne-Marie Irani and Larry Schwartz and many individual donors.   Additional sponsorships are still available.