OAKLAND -- Organizers of an annual fundraiser for arts education in Oakland's public schools say the need for financial support is growing.

Oakland Fund for the Arts reports donating $45,000 to nine programs last year after receiving 25 applications. The number of requests for assistance grew to 30 this year, and board members hope an Aug. 29 event at the Jack London Square restaurant Bocanova will generate enough cash to support even one more program.

"The worst part of being on the board is having to turn programs down, very worthwhile and valuable programs, because we don't have the funding for them," said board member Laurie Pittman.

The owners of Bocanova, Rick Hackett and wife Meredith Melville, celebrate the restaurant's anniversary each year by hosting a fundraiser for Oakland Fund for the Arts. The duo will mark their fourth year in business by offering a six-course buffet featuring food inspired by their recent monthlong journey to Argentina and Peru.

"As part of the Oakland community, we find it very important to use our restaurant as a vehicle to support local charities. Many of our patrons live in Oakland, and contributing to organizations in the area is our way of giving back," Hackett said. "We feel the Oakland Fund for the Arts' commitment to supporting art and creativity is important because it serves a much larger role by giving children from underserved communities resources and creative outlets to be successful."


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The event raised nearly $40,000 last year. The ticket price increased from $100 to $125 this year in an effort to raise more funds, Pittman said. Since its founding in 1996, Oakland Fund for the Arts has awarded more than $425,000 in grants for programs within 110 public schools, many of which are located in the city's most economically depressed areas.

Among the programs that benefited last year were drumming at Oakland Technical High School, visual arts at the Ascend school in the Fruitvale district and a bilingual choir and ukulele class at Manzanita SEED Elementary, Pittman said. The funding also supported an adaptation of "West Side Story" called "East Side Story" by students at Elmhurst Community Prep.

Renowned painter Hung Liu, a Mills College art professor, will serve as honorary chair of the event, and Redge A. Martin from Clars Auction Gallery will be the emcee. The Westlake Jazz Ensemble student band will perform during the cocktail hour and silent auction, which begins at 6 p.m. Dinner by executive chef John Jackson will be from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

IF YOU GO
What: Fourth annual Oakland Fund for the Arts fundraiser
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 29
Where: Bocanova, 55 Webster St., Oakland
Cost: $125, includes food, beverages and gratuity
Tickets: www.oaklandfundforthearts.org