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Save The Academy!

$4,262raised of $1,000,000 goal

Organizer: The American National Academy of Performing Arts Beneficiary: The American National Academy of Performing Arts

To raise money to save a non-profit performing arts school that has been a landmark of Studio City for over 56 years. All of its teachers donate their time. Your donation is TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

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Fundraiser Details

View our fundraiser video HERE:

We are the students, teachers, alumni and friends of The American National Academy of Performing Arts. We need your help!

The American National Academy of Performing Arts is a non-profit educational institution located in Studio City. It was founded in 1957 on the principal that we all learn from each other in an encouraging and non-competitive environment. The school offers classes for children and adults Tuesdays and Saturdays in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, song interpretation, musical comedy, and acting. 

The Academy is famous for its annual holiday show, where students sing and dance to classic Broadway show tunes. Songs from The Sound of Music to Annie Get Your Gun have been a staple of the program. The school has been deeply rooted in keeping these traditions alive for over 40 years.

Over the past 56 years thousands of students have attended the school including Helen Hunt, Tracey Bregman, Aaron Lohr, Amy Castle, Erin Sanders, and Paul Gleason, and teachers including Jerry Lewis, Johnny Silver, and John Forsythe.

What makes the Academy stand out from the other acting and dance schools in the city, is that all of its teachers donate their time. In addition to Dorothy, Hana Konupek, Cathy Wilkinson and Druscilla Abel have been the core foundation of teachers. No matter how big or small a class may be, they teach every week without pay for the kids. The teachers are there because they love what they do, and the students can feel that in each class they take. Many students have grown up at the school and have gone on to become teachers themselves, continuously giving back for all that they have learned. 

The Academy was founded by screen legend Francis Lederer and the traditions he set in place have been continued by Dorothy Barrett, who at 96 years old still teaches at the school. Up until she was 95 you could find her tap dancing with the children every Saturday afternoon. 

Dorothy herself is an icon of Studio City and a shining reminder of the old hollywood era that she was a part of. She was under contract with MGM in the 40‘s, danced with Fred Astaire, worked with Bob Hope, was best friends with Joan Crawford, and had supporting roles in Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and Mildred Pierce. She has dedicated the past 60 years of her life to teaching and inspiring children.

The Academy is in immediate danger of being sold, and this is where we need your help. When Francis Lederer passed away in 2000 followed by his wife in 2011 his estate Trustee sold Francis’s 50% ownership of the Academy to an outside investor without Dorothy’s knowledge. The new investor wants nothing to do with the school or Dorothy and is only concerned with making a profit as quickly as possible. 

On May 17th, 2013 the Academy property will be publicly auctioned. We need to raise 1 million dollars before that date to buy out the investor and save the building, allowing Dorothy to continue to live and teach at the school. 1 million is a lot of money, but it would only take 100,000 people to donate $10 each, 10,000 people to donate $100 each, or just a few people who want to make a really big difference.  With the power of the internet, and YOU, we can do this.

The Academy is not only a historical and educational landmark, but it has been Dorothy’s place of residence for over 50 years. She actually lives above the school and her apartment is filled with memorabilia from her past. The sale of the building would force the school to move and threaten Dorothy’s well being. For her to have to leave her home that she has known for so long and be forced into a new and uncertain environment is a horrible possibility. 

This school has impacted all of our lives, and none of us would be who we are without the amazing influence of Dorothy and the rest of the incredible teachers at the Academy. This school needs to continue the legacy that Dorothy and Francis built, and Dorothy deserves to live the rest of her life doing what she does best: instilling the love of the arts in every child she meets.  

Please help us. Share this video with everyone you know. Share it with the hashtag #SaveTheAcademy on Twitter, on Facebook, and most importantly, please donate to our page. Any amount will help to keep this school alive, and if we don't reach our million dollar goal, the money you donate will still go to benefit the school in its new location.

Let’s work together to SAVE THE ACADEMY!

I’m Amy Castle, former student and teacher, and on behalf of The American National Academy of Performing Arts, thank you. 

Contact the Organizer


by The American National Academy of Performing Arts
HUGE thank you to Fox News for the coverage of Dorothy's story tonight! Praying that we can continue to get closer and closer to our 1 million dollar goal. If anyone knows a way to get in conact with George Clooney, let us know!

by The American National Academy of Performing Arts
38 days to go, and we're picking up some traction! The news is interested in doing a story on the school, and I'm planting other seeds to keep the momentum going. Keep sharing, posting, supporting, and beleiving that we can do this!

by The American National Academy of Performing Arts
Wishing Everyone a happy Easter! So grateful for all of the donations and comments. $1224 in four days! It's a great start, and now we need to get major media attention. Fingers crossed for Ellen to help!

by The American National Academy of Performing Arts
WOW! Already up to $524 and it's the second day! Thank you all so much. I've spent this afternoon making many calls and sending lots of e-mails to spread the word further. Some big things are in the pipeline, and I'm praying that this all pans out the way it should. Thank you for your continued support, and please keep spreading the word!

by The American National Academy of Performing Arts
$395 raised in the first day. Thank you so much to our supporters. We have 47 days left to make something huge happen! Reaching Ellen Degeners is at the top of my list. Any large foundations that would want to make a donation would be fantastic too. Let's keep spreading the word, sharing on Twitter and Facebook, and keeping our spirits high. This school is too amazing to relocate and Dorothy deserves to stay at her home!

by The American National Academy of Performing Arts
First day up and running and we've already raised $70! Please watch the video and donate to keep this historic school alive. Dorothy should NOT have to leave her home of over 50 years! Let's keep talking and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter! Send to Ellen, the local news, everyone we can!





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