Octavia Spencer, Matt and Paige Tolmach Honored by ArtworxLA

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Octavia Spencer and McKenna Grace

The 25th Evening of Art feted Spencer's commitment to helping students at inner-city L.A. schools.

Octavia Spencer was the guest of honor at the 25th Annual Evening of Art, held at the Taglyan Center on Thursday night. The event was a fundraiser for ArtworxLA, a nonprofit arts education program designed to help at-risk youth in Los Angeles explore their artistic talents.

Spencer, who grew teary-eyed when accepting her award, spoke out about why the organization was so important to her.

"I love their commitment to solving the epidemic problem of dropouts in Los Angeles," said Spencer. "I like their approach in that they bridge the gap between the young artists and the professional creatives and it's all under the auspices of the education system, so I said, 'Sign me up. How can I help?"

The program is specifically tailored to help students who are falling behind in their coursework and in danger of dropping out of school entirely. Short video clips shown during the dinner showcased some of the students who had been helped by the program.

The Amazing Spider-Man producer Matt Tolmach and his wife, Paige, also were honored for their work with the organization. Matt spoke about how making a short documentary about one of ArtworxLA's students helped him rediscover his passion for filmmaking.

"I loved making that three-minute movie so much that it renewed my love of filmmaking and storytelling. It reminded me that art prevails and shows us the way if we trust it and empower it for everyone, everywhere," he said. 

Director and ArtworxLA board member Marc Webb told THR how the program could connect with students who were not succeeding in traditional academic environments.

"They're filling that gap. It's pretty incredible to see a curriculum that is really centered around arts, how quickly that engages people who have been left behind. It's a very powerful system. It encourages them. It builds confidence and its success rate is staggering," said Webb. 

Cynthia Campoy Brophy founded ArtworxLA in the aftermath of the 1992 L.A. riots, and since its launch, the program has worked to provide a creative arts education to more than 12,00 students.