What happens when two creative forces come together to establish a summer program, which doesn’t cost a penny, for kids from low-income families? With no egos in sight, powerful results happen. In 1999, performing artist Britney Spears teamed up with nationally recognized educator Donna Milani Luther to start the Britney Spears Camp for the Performing Arts, a nonprofit devoted to providing economically disadvantaged children, ages 12 -15, with an opportunity to discover themselves and their potential through the arts. From scratch, a high-caliber curriculum was developed for kids who have a love of the performing arts but little to no opportunity to pursue it. The inaugural session was such a success that work for the second year started right away.
The benchmark of success at this point came from the participants themselves and their families. Britney and Donna were hearing from kids that never had they had such an amazing experience, never had they felt so safe and secure, able to be themselves, able to have the space to learn and absorb information. A second family was formed for kids and staff alike that continues to this day.
In 2005 the program was established as Summer Stars Camp for the Performing Arts with support from a variety of donors. Because Summer Stars accepts kids from New England, New York City, East Orange, NJ, Washington, DC as well as kids from military families, securing funding is a challenge. It is also a program where staff have full time jobs as educators and performers so there is no full time staff. It is a labor of love to be sure. The program raises the money it needs to ensure that the quality of the program is never compromised. As the executive director Donna has donated her time for 20 years. Her responsibilities are enormous, but she simply can’t imagine not having Summer Stars as part of her life. Her dedication to these kids and providing this life changing opportunity is steadfast!
Britney Spears has an enormously huge heart and continues to give of herself in many ways. Most recently she made a donation to the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, continuing her effort to help children who are battling cancer. Britney has always been aware of those in need, and here at Devote can’t wait to see what she does next!
An arts educator for forty years, Donna is currently Head of Inly School, a co-educational independent day school in Massachusetts for students ages 2 – 14. Since 1989 she has been a member of the Leadership Development faculty at the Creative Problem Solving Institute where she teaches Facilitation through the Arts, Integrating Creativity and Leadership and Team Building to educators and business professionals worldwide. She has presented at conferences throughout the United States and in Brazil, China, and Israel. With a performance background in theatre, music, and dance, Donna has more than 35 years experience and credits in over 200 productions.