• Still from theatre production SERSE
  • Art Galleries
  • TV set
  • Performance Ensemble
  • guests and interviewer on Journalism set
  • violin section of orchestra

The Arts Council for CSUN: Supporting Students and Bringing Together Arts Lovers

September 15, 2021

By: Michael Ryan and Jarrod E. Fasching

Members of the Arts Council for CSUN with Former CSUN president Dianne F. Harrison at the annual Volunteer Service Awards

Founded in 1971, the Arts Council for CSUN has been one of the most positive forces for the Mike Curb College, serving as a community resource for California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in its sponsorship and presentation of the arts and its educational arts programs. Made up of members who include CSUN alumni and parents, as well as community members and local arts lovers, the group meets on a weekly basis to hear presentations from faculty members and leaders across the arts departments of the Curb College on upcoming productions and concerts, new programs, and more.

Now celebrating their 50th anniversary, the Arts Council for CSUN supports the CSUN Art Galleries and the departments of Art, Cinema and Television Arts, Music, and Theatre. Members provide invaluable volunteer support including ushering assistance during music and theatre performances, staffing for the Gallery Store, and conducting tours in the main Art Gallery. The Arts Council manages and operates the Music Shoppe and the Stage Store, with proceeds from the sales of donated scores, scripts, recordings, and more going to the Music and Theatre departments, respectively.

One of the greatest impacts the Arts Council has is generously providing numerous scholarships for students in our Art, CTVA, Music, and Theatre departments. Through their scholarship drive and membership dues, the group annually provides more than twenty scholarships to support the success of our students. 

Through their presentations and discussions with students and faculty members, “field trips” to local arts organizations, and more, a number of the members of the Arts Council have so thoroughly enjoyed this engagement and camaraderie that they have been inspired to create their own scholarship funds to further promote student achievement 

Bernice Haber, a member of the Arts Council for CSUN since 1996, was one of the first members to take this step. A former Art student at CSUN who focused on ceramics and sculpture, Bernice was a consummate artist who ran “The Workhouse” art gallery, produced her own art, and served as the president of the American Ceramic Society Design Division. She wanted to make sure that young students who shared her love of ceramics could focus on their studies, so she created a new scholarship fund that would provide that support and recognize the impact of the Arts Council.

Bernice was a huge advocate for the Arts Council during her lifetime, and one of the individuals she brought into the group was her neighbor, Harriet Leibovitch. Harriet, who attended CSUN, as did two of her sons, was invited to a meeting by Bernice and was immediately taken with the warmth and support of the other group members. She shared that while she had been in other support organizations and didn’t particularly enjoy meetings, “these members were so wonderful, so special” that not only did Harriet join the group, but she would eventually serve as the group’s President and other leadership positions.

Inspired by Bernice’s giving and knowing that more students needed help, Harriet took the next step and created her own scholarship, which moves between different departments each year. Having so far supported students in the opera and theatre programs, Harriet believes that “scholarships are a wonderful thing, and if you can afford it, please consider it.”

Amada “Amy” Sosa has given awards to two students in the Theatre department for a number of years. There have been additional scholarships in the past, one provided by Eleanor Baxter and Dorothy Fabricant, and one by Ange Kasza in honor of her mother and father. Some donors have chosen to create scholarships in their estate plans including Deanna Freeman Gorman and Jean Smith Mathy, who sadly have both passed in the last year.

Most recently, a newer member made a pledge to establish an annual scholarship with plans to endow it with a bequest in the future. She wanted her scholarship to be affiliated with the Arts Council, so we added the group’s name to it. The Donna Kalajian Arts Council Scholarship will begin in Spring 2022 and rotate annually through the four arts-related departments. Donna stated, “With my long-term affiliation with CSUN as an alum and on the faculty years ago, and after 32 years as a secondary educator, it has been a pleasure to be a member of the Arts Council to witness the students’ passion for learning, creating, and performing. This inspired me to create my Arts Council scholarship to help the students achieve their educational and artistic aspirations.”

We are deeply thankful for the incredible impact the Arts Council has created for the Curb College. Having a group that so deeply champions the arts and the success of our students is beyond valuable, and helps us stay more deeply connected with our larger community. If you’d like to learn more about the Arts Council or apply to become a member, please visit their website. If you’re inspired by these stories of supporting students at the arts at CSUN and would be interested in creating your own scholarship fund, please contact the Curb College Development Office via email or phone (818) 677-2246.