Students Unleash Creativity in Campaign to Keep Arts In Schools Inspired in Part by Inocente

Jan 31st, 2013 | Sacramento:

As a new legislative session gets underway, students are taking a creative approach to advocating to keep arts, music, theater, and dance classes in California public schools. This week, the Student Voices campaign, launched by the California Alliance for Arts Education, provides a platform for young people to make and share creative videos demonstrating their creativity and passion for the arts directly with their elected officials.

“Young people offer creative, powerful evidence of the many ways that arts education empowers and equips them for a successful future,” says Joe Landon, Executive Director of the California Alliance, “We’ve created a platform for them to communicate that passion directly to elected officials.”

Through a partnership with the Tony Award Winning Berkeley Rep Theatre, the Alliance will engage members of Berkeley Rep School of Theatre’s Teen Council in the campaign. The Teen Council, comprised of a diverse group of teens (grades 9–12) who are interested in theatre and engaged in advocacy work, will participate in the campaign and help mobilize their peers and community to get involved.

Big New Ideas, the creative strategists behind, acted as pro-bono technical and creative advisers for the project. The campaign’s home base on Tumblr features a gallery of videos, a way to share videos with newly elected officials as well as online advocacy resources especially designed for young people. The campaign also a presence on Facebook and the California Alliance website.

The site also features videos from campaign partners Shine Global and Inner City Arts to provide imaginative examples of advocacy videos, including clips from the Academy Award-nominated documentary, Inocente, by Shine Global, telling the story of a girl who refuses to give up on her dream of being an artist, despite being homeless and undocumented; and My LA and Skid Row Dreams, videos created by Inner City Arts students.

The campaign will run until March 31st. The two students whose videos garner the greatest number of Facebook likes during the campaign will win Adobe software for their school and their videos will be featured at upcoming Alliance events.

In recent years, the budget crisis has caused year after year of cuts to public education. During that time, arts education has been disappearing from schools at an alarming rate. According to a survey conducted by the Legislative Analysts Office in 2009, 60% of school districts surveyed have cut arts programs and another 20% have eliminated them altogether.

The Alliance has assembled a strong and diverse team of partners for the campaign:

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Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Teen Council
Berkeley Repertory Theatre, recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, seeks to set a national standard for ambitious programming, engagement with its audiences and leadership within the community in which it resides. Through productions, outreach and education, Berkeley Rep aspires to use theatre as a means to challenge, thrill and galvanize what is best in the human spirit. Berkeley Rep School of Theatre’s Teen Council is comprised of a diverse group of teens (grades 9–12) interested in theatre from all over the nine-counties in the Bay Area. Teen Council provides the opportunity for teens to participate in all aspects of the dramatic process: on stage, behind the scenes, and as audience members. Through claimyourARTS initiative, teens develop advocacy and civic engagement skills by hosting trainings and conferences, visiting politicians on the local, state and national level, and mobilizing their peers and community around issues affecting arts education. For more information, click or

Inner-City Arts

Inner-City Arts, widely regarded as one of the nation’s most effective arts education providers, is an oasis of learning, achievement and creativity in the heart of Skid Row, and a vital partner in the work of creating a safer, healthier?Los Angeles. Providing access to the arts, Inner-City Arts is an investment in the youth of Los Angeles. Creating a bridge between the studio and the classroom, Inner-City Arts’ unique approach to arts education measurably improves academic and personal outcomes for children and youth, including those students with Limited English Proficiency who are at risk of academic failure.

INOCENTE is an inspiring coming-of-age documentary about a fifteen-year old girl, Inocente, in California. Though homeless and undocumented, she refuses to give up on her dream of being an artist, proving that the hand she has been dealt does not define her – her dreams do. Told in her own words and through her paintings, she reveals a world where buildings drip in yellow and orange, where pink and turquoise planets twinkle with rescued dreams, and one-eyed childlike creatures play amongst loved babies and purple clouds.

California Alliance for Arts Education
The California Alliance is the leading state advocate for arts education in K-12 public schools. Working at the forefront of policymaking, public advocacy and coalition building, the Alliance champions standards-based visual and performing arts for all California children.

For more information contact Sibyl O’Malley (626) 578-9315 ext. 102

Waiting for Mamu: Pushpa Basnet

Shine’s Dir. of Marketing and Production Alexandra Blaney with CNN Hero Pushpha Basnet at a New York City event honoring her work for children in Nepal. (Photo credit Clark Morgan)

Shine Global was proud to be part of an event hosted by Susan Sarandon honoring Pushpa Basnet, the founder and executive director of the Early Childhood Develepoment Center in Nepal, for being named CNN Hero of the year.

28-year-old Pushpa currently takes care of 40 children. Every one of them once lived in Nepal’s prisons. As one of the poorest countries in the world (according to UNICEF, 55% of the population lives below the international poverty line), there are none of the social safety nets that exist in most western countries. So when a parent is arrested and there is no one to look after their child, the child is imprisoned with the parent. Many of these children go to prison at a young age and are released to the world at age 18, with no life skills or support system, knowing nothing of the world but what they experienced in a jail cell.

“It’s not fair for (these) children to live in the prison because they haven’t done anything wrong,” said Basnet, who started a nongovernmental organization to help. “My mission is to make sure no child grows up behind prison walls.”

Pushpa grew up in more fortunate circumstances. Her family had a successful business and she was able to attend college. While traveling the country when she was 21, she was shocked to discover children behind bars. Despite objection to her age and the difficulty of the project, Pushpa started adopting children and taking them out of prison. “When I started, nobody believed in me,” Basnet said. “People thought I was crazy. They laughed at me.”

Since 2005, she has assisted more than 100 children of incarcerated parents. She runs a day care program for children under 6 and a residential home where mostly older children receive education, food, medical care and a chance to live a more normal life. While she now has a few staff members who help her, Basnet is still very hands on.

“We do cooking, washing, shopping,” she said. “It’s amazing, I never get tired. (The children) give me the energy. … The smiles of my children keep me motivated.” She struggles however to find the money to pay rent and to overcome the objections and discrimination of landlords. She also worries about the future of her children and recently set up a bank account to save for their higher education.

“This is what I want to do with my life,” she said. “It makes me feel (good) when I see that they are happy, but it makes me want to work harder. … I want to fulfill all their dreams.”

A documentary short film, Waiting for Mamu, will share Pushpa’s passion and the story of what it means for a child to grow up in prison and yet find hope in unlikely places.

For more info on Pushpa and the CNN Hero award visit:

UPDATE 5/14/13: Shine Global is pleased to be be acting as fiscal sponsor and production partner for the short documentary Waiting for Mamu. We are currently raising finishing funds for final editing and post production for a release this coming fall. If you are interested in donating to this project, please click here and enter your tax-deductible donation in the “Waiting for Mamu” section.

Inocente Nominated for an Academy Award®

Shine’s short documentary INOCENTE, directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, has been nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject!

The film tells the story of fifteen-year-old Inocente, a homeless, undocumented immigrant, who clings to her determination to become an artist in the face of a bleak future.

Directors: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine

Producers: Yael Melamede, Albie Hecht, Emanuel Michael, Sean and Andrea Nix Fine

Executive Producers: Susan MacLaury, John Leguizamo, Emanuel Michael, Ryan A. Brooks, Christina Weiss Lurie, Jeffrey Lurie

Happy New Year!

2012 was a great year for Shine and 2013 is shaping up to be another busy one!

We finished and released our short documentary film Inocente which so far has won several awards and is still generating awards buzz. It was broadcast in August on MTV, reaching approximately half a million viewers in total, and has made a tremendous impact on national advocacy organizations,  youth workers, and kids themselves (read some of their comments in our 12/2/12 Newsletter).  Stay tuned for more news about Inocente screenings and awards.

In 2013, we have several new projects we are working on.  Currently in postproduction, ONE WAY UP in 3D is the story of two teenage boys on the road to the BMX World Championships. They hope to escape one of the toughest gang neighborhoods in London with the only thing they have – a bike.  SELLING OUR DAUGHTERS gives us exclusive access to the untold story of trafficking in Northern Thailand.   Sold by their parents into slavery, these young girls’ rescue depends on an unlikely alliance between a former trafficker and a photojournalist.  And in DANCING IN JAFFA, produced in association with kNow Productions and Tiara Blu Films, we meet the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Israeli 10-year olds who, despite being taught to hate one another, have the courage to partner together in a dance competition in Jaffa, Israel.

Shine will continue to make films to tell untold stories about children around the world with the aim to inspire action and change.  Since our founding in 2005, Shine has worked with more than 40 organizations to increase the impact and outreach of our films.  Shine is also unique in that it donates ALL net profits from our films to organizations working on the ground with the children and issues profiled in our films.