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Grandin Theatre Film Lab Summer Intensive in Martinsville Cancelled.

June 4, 2019

A Message from the Grandin Theatre

On behalf of everyone at the Grandin Theatre Film Lab and the For Alison Foundation, I would like to thank those who registered for one of our summer filmmaking camps this year. We strongly believe in enabling our area's young people to grow their voice and life skills through the cinematic arts, and we are grateful that you share in that mission.

Unfortunately, we did not reach our minimum enrollment numbers by our deadline. As a result, both weeks of camp will be canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause for family plans this summer. We will keep your information on file in the event we do offer programs in the area that require an application in the future.

However, we are not throwing in the towel on our programming for Martinsville and Henry County! We are already strategizing for ways that we can bring experiences and education from Film Lab into the high schools in Martinsville and Henry County during this upcoming school year. So if any of you take a filmmaking class (or maybe even if you don't), I hope I will get to meet you soon and help you learn more about the filmmaking process!

All the best,

 Tyler Lyon
Grandin Theatre Film Lab Program Coordinator


Star City School of Ballet Honors Alison Parker at Opening

March 29, 2019

The school's theater will have a name that means a lot to WDBJ7 and the greater community.

"We are going to name it the Alison Parker theater. It's a very special place that people come and see performances and really she will be delightful because she was a beautiful dancer and I know she's dancing up there," Szalay said.

Szalay was friends with Parker so he has decided to also offer a scholarship in her name.


Foundation offers arts experiences to students

December 24, 2018

The late Alison Parker would have loved seeing the Southwest Virginia Ballet's "The Nutcracker" this December -- but instead, 160 city fourth-graders saw it, thanks to the foundation created in her memory.


Martinsville City 4th Graders Experience Southwest Virginia Ballet's The Nutcracker

December 7, 2018

Today was magical for 160 4th graders from Martinsville City elementary schools. The For Alison Foundation sponsored a trip to Roanoke to see the Southwest Virginia Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker! Simone Ayers, our scholarship recipient, was a beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy and after the show (and out of costume) she came out to greet the students. What a wonderful way to start the holiday season!

Photo credit: McDilda Photography


Martinsville High School Jazz Band Attends Clinic at VT

November 30, 2018

Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts
on November 30, 2018

The Martinsville High School Jazz Band and their director Brian Joyce recently participated in a Jazz Clinic with Virginia Tech music faculty member Jason Crafton. The trip was sponsored by the For Alison Foundation, which was established in memory of journalist Alison Parker. Alison was a member of the MHS Jazz Band from 2009 - 2012.

The mission of the For Alison Foundation is to to create opportunities for children in Southern Virginia to experience the arts. 


The Sugar Plum Fairy Visits 4th Grade Classes

November 28, 2018

Our dance scholarship recipient, Simone Aryes, visited the Martinsville City Schools 4th grade classes as the Sugar Plum Fairy! All 160 of the students will see Simone perform in the Southwest Virginia Ballet production of The Nutcracker at the Berglund Center in Roanoke next month through a grant from the For Alison Foundation.


Dance Scholarship

September 20, 2018

The For Alison Foundation has established a scholarship in Alison's memory at the Star City School of Ballet in Roanoke. The school is owned and operated by Pedro Szalay, artistic director of the Southwest Virginia Ballet.

The first recipient is Simone Ayres of Bassett, Virginia. Simone also dances with Ray Hollingsworth studio in Martinsville and is a member of the Southwest Virginia Ballet company. Simone will be dancing the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the upcoming production of The Nutcracker. 


Scholarships Awarded to Summer Music Institute

June 9, 2018

Fredricka St. Louis is a rising 9th grader who will go to Patrick Henry High School in the fall.  She plays violin in her school orchestra and participates in RYS String Ensemble during the year.  She has played violin for three years and participated in RYS String Ensemble for 2 years.

Sydney Light is a rising 9th grader who will attend Patrick Henry High School in the fall.  She plays double bass and participates in the RYS Chamber Ensemble.  She's very passionate about music and dance.  In addition to studying bass, she is a competitive dancer. 

Escher Oberg is a rising 8th grader at Jackson Middle school.  He plays cello in his school orchestra and participates in RYS String Ensemble during the year.  He has played cello for 1 full year and already is principal cellist of RYS String Ensemble. 

Since 2016, the For Alison Foundation has provided ten scholarships for the RSO Summer Music Institute.


Grandin Theatre Film Students Awarded Emmys

May 11, 2018

The For Alison Foundation has proudly supported the Film Lab since 2017. Grandin Theatre Foundation Executive Director Ian Fornier wrote, "the Grandin Theatre Film Lab is honored to be associated with the life of Alison Parker through the For Alison Foundation. We feel she would have enjoyed being around these young, artistic minds".


MVHS Drama Students at the Blackfriars Playhouse

April 12, 2018

Thirty-six drama students from Magna Vista High School in Ridgeway, VA traveled to Staunton, VA with their instructor Bryan Dunn to see a performance of "The Taming of the Shrew" at the Blackfriar's Playhouse. Dunn said that "thanks to the For Alison Foundation, the students were able to see professionals in the acting craft which delivers a new perspective and appreciation of both Shakespeare and theatre arts as a whole".



Children Help Create Art Garden Wall

May 23, 2017

Piedmont Arts' Art Garden wall has inserts of tile murals depicting a cardinal, a pumpkin, dogwood tree flowers, and a yellow butterfly. The murals were created by artist Beryl Solla with the help of attendees at a family day in the garden. The butterfly mural was sponsored by the For Alison Foundation, in memory of Alison Parker.


DePaul Day at the Taubman

April 10, 2017

DePaul Community Resources foster children and their families were treated to tours of the current exhibitions and craft-making at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke, thanks to a grant from the For Alison Foundation. 


MMS Students See Poe Stories

November 22, 2016

Students from Martinsville Middle School who are studying the work of Edgar Allan Poe traveled to Roanoke to see some of the stories live on stage, thanks to a grant from the For Alison Foundation. The students read the stories and created art projects in class before seeing the production on stage.


For Alison Foundation gives Opportunities to Local Students

October 20, 2016

by Ben E. Williams, Bulletin Staff Writer

MARTINSVILLE ­Area high school students sampled the milk of human kindness, thanks to two trips to The American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton. They were both sponsored by the For Alison Foundation.
Barbara Parker, mother of the late Alison Parker and director of the For Alison Foundation, said the non­profit foundation’s mission is to give students arts opportunities they might not have otherwise.

With that in mind, the foundation sponsored two trips to the Blackfriars Playhouse. This month students from Magna Vista and Bassett High Schools traveled to the theatre to see Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night."

High school students often have to read Shakespeare’s works, Parker said, but his plays were not meant to be read? they were meant to be performed.  “They read it, and they don’t get it,” Parker said. “It’s like a foreign language, and they’re bored.”But seeing the plays performed causes a wholly different reaction. Parker said that the Magna Vista students who saw the play last week thoroughly enjoyed it. “To see those kids’ faces when they suddenly see that Shakespeare is funny and bawdy … it was worth the price of admission,” she said.

The American Shakespeare Center offers one of the most authentic Shakespeare experiences available, barring the use of a time machine. “Blackfriars is a model of the only indoor theatre where Shakespeare’s plays were mounted during his era,” Parker said. “They leave the lights on like they would have back then. There’s a line of stools on each side of the stage where audience members sit on the stage. Some of the students sat there and actually participated in the show.

“Before the show and at intermission, the actors sing contemporary songs and play period instruments,” Parker continued. “You might have the Rolling Stones being played on a lute. It’s just so fun … it gives kids a completely different idea of who Shakespeare was. He wrote for the Queen of England, but he also wrote for the people who could maybe only pay a penny to come in and stand in front of the stage. He knew he had to entertain both.”

The students were engaged with the play, she said, and they weren’t afraid to ask questions during the talk­back after the show. Students asked the actors why they decided to devote themselves to Shakespearian plays, or asked how long it took them to understand the language.
“Students understand Shakespeare a lot more when they can see it on­stage,” said Magna Vista teacher Melody Margrave, whose students attended Blackfriars last Thursday. “They were surprised at how much they enjoyed the day. We did discuss it in class … but sitting and reading
Shakespeare and seeing it performed are two entirely different things. I think that’s what made the trip so enjoyable. A lot of them had never been to a real live performance.

Margrave said the late Alison Parker was a vibrant young woman who supported the arts, and that field trips like the Blackfriars trips are a wonderful way to honor her memory.

Since the For Alison Foundation was founded in February, Parker said, it has provided four scholarships to the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra’s summer camp at Hollins University? helped sponsor a free Roanoke Symphony concert at Elmwood Park in Roanoke? provided state­of­the­art video equipment for WMHS­8, the student­run news crew at Martinsville High School? sponsored a Martinsville Middle School trip to see a touring Edgar Allan Poe production in Roanoke at the end of the month? and arranged through DePaul Community Resources in Roanoke for a family day for foster children and their families at the Taubman Museum of Art.

“Alison had opportunities that a lot of kids don’t have,” Parker said. “She just appreciated the arts and what they could do. … She wanted the arts to be accessible and available to all children.”

Those wishing to make a tax­deductible contribution to the For Alison Foundation are invited to mail a check to For Alison Foundation, P.O. Box 1207, Collinsville, Va. 24078, or go online to and make an online donation.

Ben Williams reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at


For Alison Foundation donates camera equipment to Martinsville High School

June 29, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) The Martinsville High School television station now has new equipment thanks to the For Alison Foundation. Wednesday afternoon, Barabra Parker presented WMHS8 with a new camera, tripod and camera bag. Parker, the mother of our fallen colleague Alison Parker says it was donated by Alex Martin and the Digital Media Group out of Mechanicsville, Virginia. "We appreciate it so much because they see that vision of the journalists of the future and what they can accomplish even when they are in high school," Parker said. WMHS8 members say this will help them continue their path as young journalists. They will be able to expand their station and the opportunity to other students at the school with a new club next year.


Author David Baldacci dedicates book to WDBJ7 shooting victims

May 11, 2016

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Author David Baldacci has dedicated his book "The Last Mile" to WDBJ7 shooting victims Alison Parker and Adam Ward. Baldacci has published more than 30 best-selling novels. Click in the video player above to watch Baldacci's interview Tuesday on WDBJ7.