“Angels” step in to strengthen Saddleback’s artistic community

Theater photo (Ken Kinder)

Cassie Rossel

In 1981 a non-profit organization was founded that would benefit Saddleback College students who are interested in the arts. This program came to be known as Angels for the Arts.

In the past thirty years, Angels for the Arts has assisted Saddleback students in pursuing their artistic talents and abilities through scholarships, workshops, and donations.

The “angels” are citizens in the nearby communities of Saddleback who raise money and promote awareness for the arts at the college.

Although the primary beneficiaries of the program are Saddleback students, the organization does not limit itself to one purpose. Angels for the Arts gladly extends its arms outside of the school to provide the surrounding communities with access to the arts.

The main event that the organization was originally founded to support is the annual summer showcase of the Saddleback Civic Light Opera. With the support of Angels for the Arts, this highly anticipated spectacular has continued to draw Southern Orange County audiences for over 30 years.

Several years ago, Angels for the Arts unfortunately went through a rough patch and essentially fell apart.

The current Director of Performing Arts Operations, Kate Realista, is credited to have been the one to resurrect the program and bring it to the state of prestige on which it stands today.

A former director of a non-profit theater, Realista became the perfect candidate to reinstate the Angels for the Arts program. She took on the challenging task of creating a new board about six years ago, and in the process, changed the focus of the program to gear towards benefiting Saddleback students involved in all art forms.

“In the past, Angels for the Arts was most beneficial to theater students and the Saddleback Civic Light Opera. We have changed that,” Realista said. “We are now embracing and supporting all art forms.”

With the new board in place, Realista helped Angels for the Arts branch out of the Fine Arts Department to benefit all forms of art at Saddleback. Some include the visual arts, performing arts, and media arts.

“Whatever field you’re in, if there is an art form connected to it, Angels for the Arts will support those students,” Realista said. “We are really trying to support the students in their artistic endeavors.”

The “angels” award $1,000 scholarships to eight special students who present an artistic talent in any form of art. The scholarships awarded to these students are unlike any other scholarships offered at Saddleback.

The scholarships provided by Angels for the Arts have no restrictions or requirements. Once the student receives the award, the recipients may use the money however he or she desires.

Tyler McGeough, a 2011 scholarship recipient of Angels for the Arts, used the award money to study privately this last summer with world renown principal trombonist, Mike Hoffman of the Pacific Symphony.

Now a music major at CSU Long Beach, McGeough is a lead trombonist himself on the highly competitive and distinguished wind ensemble at the university.

“Studying with Mike Hoffman over the summer really prepared me for the experiences I am currently having at CSU Long Beach within the wind ensemble,” McGeough said.

McGeough is just one of many students who have greatly advanced their artistic talents with the help of Angels for the Arts.

With the current economic status, art programs are among the first to be cut at educational institutions across the country.

Angels for the Arts has allowed the artistic community at Saddleback to flourish rather than to diminish during one of the worst financial crises our country has ever seen.

“Because the arts do sometimes feel marginalized, I think it is crucial to have Angels for the Arts in place so that all those students realize that they are very much honored and supported, and that people do see the need for that type of scholarship in the arts,” Realista said. “I think it’s very important to keep it going.”

Anyone can become a supporter of Angels for the Arts. Events are held all year long to benefit the organization. More information on upcoming events and how to get involved can be found at the Fine Arts Department home page on the Saddleback website.  

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