The Davis School Arts Foundation was founded by Patricia Hershberger in 1981 in the wake of the Gann Initiative which eliminated funding for arts programs in the elementary public schools. Prior to the Gann Initiative, the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) budgeted $93,500 a year in salaries alone for art programs. This drastic cut made front page headlines, packed meetings of arts supporters, and created an atmosphere of animosity in the community towards the school administrators. The superintendent at the time, Bob Trigg, responded to community pressure by setting aside $5,000 for the 1980-1981 DJUSD budget to develop a teacher cadre through in-service art workshops. Ms. Hershberger administered the program where two teachers from each elementary school would attend workshops and then take the information back to their schools to share with their colleagues. The program lasted three years, with the budget cut in half to $2,500 per year after the first year.
After the first year of workshops, Ms. Hershberger had the idea to restore arts funding to the public schools by raising money through a matching funds foundation. The foundation would donate money to the district as long as the district matched that money with funds of its own. In the summer of 1981, this unique community-district partnership was formed. Ms. Hershberger assembled seven other like-minded people, and the Davis School Arts Foundation was born.
Bylaws and Incorporation
In the fall of 1981, bylaws and articles of incorporation were filed with the state. The bylaws reflected first the founders’ determination that community support must be met in kind by the district and that the responsibility of returning arts to the schools remained with the district. Second, only programs that were curricular based and in school were funded. Enrichment, tours, and extracurricular activities were not funded. An endowment fund was established to take care of funds raised that the district could not match and proposed, although did not mandate, would grow until the interest from it would support the programs started. After this time, the DSAF could cease to exist except to administer the interest, or could go on growing.
Fund Raising Efforts
The first fund drive showed tremendous community support and raised $10,000 through private donations alone. That first year, the district was only able to match $2,500 of the $10,000, so $7,500 was placed in an endowment fund. The first program funded by DSAF was a district-wide recorder program.
The DSAF has steadily increased its yearly contribution to the DJUSD. In 1983, the foundation’s contribution was $2,460. In 1984, that contribution was increased to $8150, and then in 1985 it was raised again to $10,000. DSAF’s annual contribution to the district remained at $10,000 until 1990 when it reached $13,000. By 2000, DSAF had raised its contribution to $18,000 in cash, with $16,000 matched in cash by the district and $2000 matched in in-kind services.
The DSAF also began serving as administrators of several grant programs including the Harmony Grant program, funded by the West Valley Chorle’s annual Harmony in our Lives benefit concert; the Watermelon Music “Gumball Grant” funded by Watermelon Music; the Clella Maul Fund Grant; Site Grants; and Hershberger Grants.
In all, the DSAF has raised or administered more than $600,000 for the DJUSD arts programs since its inception in 1981.
In the past, the DSAF has funded:
- A visual arts program coordinator who worked with elementary school teachers and classrooms in the district;
- A yearly grant program for certified teachers at all school levels;
- A district-wide recorder program for all fourth graders;
- A dramatic arts cadre that has written an articulated drama curriculum for use throughout the district;
- Badly needed repairs and replacement of musical instruments;
- Purchase and maintenance of school art print collections;
- Start up money for arts and music programs at newly built elementary schools and junior high schools;
- Teacher training and workshops in developing and integrating arts into all aspects of the curriculum;
- Theatre sets and wardrobes;
- Vocal libraries, sound equipment, and performance risers for school choruses and choirs;
- Yearly site grants for each elementary school that fill art boxes with tangibles such as paint, brushes, paper and clay.