A Short Film Starring Erykah, Edie and Norah

Come January 2008, or thereabouts, this is what the "new" Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts will look like. Artsy.

It's going to cost $47 million to renovate the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts--or, ya know, Arts Magnet, for those with shorter attention spans. Folks involved with the Arts Magnet Building Campaign say they're still $6.5 million short of that goal, despite meeting a $500,000 Communities Foundation of Texas challenge grant, Nancy Hamon's $10-million donation (the biggest ever to a single public school dedicated to the arts) and other multimillion-dollar challenge grants that were met ahead of schedule. Of course, $15 million of that money will come from the DISD's 2002 bond program.

The expansion of the school, which will remain where it's been since being moved to its current location on Flora Street in 1922, was prompted by its tiny size; meant to hold no more than 400 students, enrollment sits at almost twice that figure. The expansion will, if all goes as planned, include a 168,000-square-foot addition with some 40 classrooms, performance areas and a performance hall and a "black box" theater; in other words, it'll be its own arts district within the Arts District, even if the park surrounding the school ("the populist pulse of the entire district") isn't quite up to snuff, according to David Dillon in his final Dallas Morning News review last week. Groundbreaking was in May, and earlier this year students and teachers were forced to move to a temporary location at Nolan Estes Plaza on South R.L. Thornton Freeway. They should get to return to their new digs by January 2008, though you know how these things go.

To help raise those final few million, the Arts Magnet Building Campaign commissioned Doug Rucker at R&D ThinkTank on Second Avenue to make a short film celebrating the school without directly begging for dough. There are cameos in the 8-minute movie from some of its most famous graduates--Norah Jones, Edie Brickell and Erykah Badu chief among them. (No Roy Hargrove, though he is mentioned.) It has its premiere September 7 at a Communities Foundations of Texas fundraiser and is available by clicking through to the Arts Magnet Building Campaign's Web site.

Or you could just watch it here. We asked the Arts Magnet Building Campaign if we could "screen" the short, and while we're way too cheap to give anyone money, we're all about hosting short films with famous people in them. We're very shallow that way. --Robert Wilonsky

Bonus Video: Tomorrow's Masters, featuring Edie Brickell, Norah Jones and Erykah Badu


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