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Shaftesbury grants US$25,000 to arts school

Toronto-based Shaftesbury Films is entering the public school system as an educator of sorts, teaming up with the Toronto District School Board to offer master classes and set visits for high school students from the Etobicoke School of the Arts.
March 24, 2010

Toronto-based Shaftesbury Films is entering the public school system as an educator of sorts, teaming up with the Toronto District School Board to offer master classes and set visits for high school students from the Etobicoke School of the Arts.

Shaftesbury CEO Christina Jennings made the announcement Tuesday on the Toronto set of its new live-action comedy Baxter, which wraps 13 episodes for Family Channel this week. The series will debut in the fall.

The ongoing initiative comes with a US$25,000 cash donation, and marks the first collaboration of a Canadian film and television production company with a public school in the Canadian province of Ontario to provide learning opportunities for film students.

Jennings says the company started discussions with ESA about a year ago when it found out about the school’s new film program, now in its second year. (ESA is the oldest arts-focused high school in Canada.)

‘It is really to work with the school to help bring the work experience to the [students],’ she says, adding that the company wants to get students out on a set to watch filming, and also have them engage with the actors, writers and editors.

Performers and creative staff from various Shaftesbury series will conduct the master classes, with the first session getting underway in April, led by actress Cynthia Dale, who plays a drama instructor on Baxter.

Jennings calls Baxter, set in a performing arts school, ‘the Glee for kids.’ It stars Evan Williams (Degrassi: The Next Generation) as a student who, along with his friends, juggles math tests with musical recitals and dance solos. It also stars newcomers Holly Deveaux, Kyle Mac and Brittany Bristow. Shaftesbury will shop the series at next month’s MIPTV.

The prodco is also about to start shooting Ken Finkleman’s new half-hour series Good Dog for The Movie Network and Movie Central.

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