After reconsidering, pop star Britney Spears has agreed to continue funding a summer performing arts camp for inner-city children.
With more than $200,000 from the Britney Spears Foundation, Donna Milani Luther of Norwell started the camp five years ago for girls and boys ages 11 to 15.
One-hundred-thirty children from low-income families in Boston, New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., attend the Cape Cod camp free each year.
In January, Luther learned that the singer’s foundation would no longer fund the program, known has the Britney Spears Camp for the Performing Arts.
Although Spears asked Luther to start the camp, the foundation announced that it was redirecting Spears’ charitable giving to another cause: programs for children with cancer.
But Spears changed her mind. The Britney Spears Foundation will still provide most of the camp’s funding, although the amount has been cut by more than half. This summer’s budget will be $75,000. Luther is seeking other funding sources for next year and says she will try and return the camp to its original size or make it even larger.
The camp, which has been renamed Camp Summer Stars, used to serve 130 children and run for 10 days. This year, it will serve 60 and run for five days, Aug. 24-29.
‘‘I thought: ‘I can’t leave the kids at my camp in a lurch,”’ Luther said from the Inly School, formerly the Montessori Community School, in Scituate, where she is the director. ‘‘Most of the kids are from the inner city, from families with incomes of less than $10,000, and many tell us this is the only thing they look forward to all year.”
Luther reorganized the camp this past winter as a nonprofit organization under the new name and began lining up performers, such as the rap group Run-DMC.
‘‘When Britney heard that I was going ahead anyway, she arranged for us to talk and agreed to give us some funding, though it is smaller than in the past,” Luther said.
‘‘I’m very excited. We are going to do a benefit performance Aug. 28, and I’m working on lining up other performers.”
The camp also will have a new location: Camp Farley in Sandwich. The former location, a camp in Yarmouth, was already booked when this year’s plans were finalized.
Luther has been a full-time educator for 31 years and has acted in and directed community theater. She started the camp after Spears’ management phoned to ask her to develop a performing arts program for children from communities without many services. Spears was starting her charitable foundation at the time, and a Boston attorney referred her to Luther.
Spears and her mother have visited the camp, but they did not visit last summer.
The camp receives hundreds of applications annually. The children are asked to write an essay on why they want to attend. It is their passion for the arts, rather than their level of performance skill, that is the deciding factor, Luther said. The camp offers workshops in acting, dance, vocal production, choral singing, drumming and other arts, plus traditional camp activities.
The members of the camp staff come from across the world. They offered to work for free this summer if funding could not be found, Luther said.
Source: The Patriot