Anyone who has been following the state of arts education in schools today knows that one thing is true: Funding for creative programs in schools is constantly under threat.
Since 2002, the Tribeca Film Institute has been working with schools across the country to develop the next generation
of young filmmakers. Founded by actor Robert De Niro, Craig Hatkoffand De Niro’s long time producing partner Jane Rosenthal, the Institute runs programs across the country and abroad. “The Film Institute was sort of an unexpected turn,” said Rosenthal recently just before receiving the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award for her work with the Institute. “To see kids come out of it and use ‘Tribeca’ as a noun or an adjective. … They’ll say, ‘Oh, I did Tribeca,’ or ‘Are you Tribeca-ing this year.’ And it’s just — how did that happen?” she asked with a laugh. “It’s just an unexpected joy for me to get to have that in my life and to be passionate about that.”
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While the average filmgoer probably doesn’t know Rosenthal’s name, they’ve almost certainly seen the movies she’s worked on, which include “Analyze This,” “Meet the Parents” and “About a Boy.” Along the way she has also worked with the Institute and other filmmakers to give young people a creative outlet.
Last Tuesday, she was honored by the Montblanc Cultural Foundation and De Niro himself for her longtime advocacy of the arts.
As Lutz Bethge of the foundation puts it, Rosenthal had a significant impact on the arts and the state of the creative industry in Lower Manhattan, particularly after September 11. “I think she did something extraordinary for the film industry,” says Bethge, “because she gave young directors an opportunity by giving this area new hope, bringing in young people and giving them a new direction, allowing them to find their own way.”
Since the Institute began 12 years ago, Rosenthal has become a passionate advocate of encouraging creativity in schools. “Art programs have been slashed, that’s the first thing to go,” she notes. “And after that it’s sports programs. Every kid needs a break where you can express yourself in different ways. It’s not just English and algebra that you need functional knowledge in.”
The star producer also sees bigger and better things for the Institute in the years to come. “I would like the program to be in every one of New York City’s public schools. I would love to see it grow nationally and internationally. … So I think I have a bit of fund-raising to do in that case,” she says.
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.