Categorized | Feature

Philanthropic alumnus supports performing arts

Catherine Gagulashvili Calendar Manager

Ben Dahan News Editor

Nearly four decades ago Michael J. Libow, a prominent member of the Beverly Hills community, was a student at Beverly. Libow was “a painfully shy, heavyset kid” who “felt ostracized by the cool kids.” He was an AP student with an aptitude for mathematics who never participated in extracurricular activities. Despite his lack of involvement in extracurriculars while a student, he has now become paramount in furthering the Performing Arts Department.

Libow, who has had a lengthy tradition of major contributions to the schools in the district, donated $25,700 to the Beverly Hills Education Foundation (BHEF) this past October. This contribution was one of several that he has made over the last two years. Despite not being a “drama kid” while growing up, Libow has recently directed his donations specifically to the Performing Arts Department.

“I’ve always felt that it is an incredibly important aspect of education to have performing arts, or anything creative, in addition to the core principles involved in education. Because I do know that a lot of programs have been cut, funding has been cut for them, it just isn’t as available for [students] like when I was growing up in the district,” Libow said. “I thought it was a great opportunity to give back to the school, but promote something that I’m heavily in favor.”

Drama instructor Karen “Kaz” Chandler, who splits Libow’s donations with the vocal and band programs, finds that putting on four shows a year, especially the annual musical, wouldn’t be possible without contributions from people like Libow.

“I think it’s amazing that the BHEF seeks out people like Mr. Libow to fund the arts specifically so that we can rise above all of the budget cuts that everybody else in the country is facing and continue to produce four shows a year,” Kaz said. “Theater in the United States runs 100 percent off people like Mr. Libow.”

Another reason for his donations to the Performing Arts Department is rooted in the fact that he believes students should have a creative outlet that allows them to further their academic, social and emotional success.

“Overall, whether or not the students go on to utilize performing arts in their actual vocations, I want them to have a background of having that particular side of their brain exercised,” Libow said.  “I think it’s important to have that creative background, that creative expression.”

Senior Daniel Kohanbash, a Theater Arts Workshop member of two years, thinks it would be a lot more difficult to generate money without Libow’s help.

“Mr. Libow has been very generous. He is so supportive [of] us. He makes it feel as though we’re his kids, in a sense. He’s supporting us in all our endeavours,” Kohanbash said. “It really wouldn’t be possible without his help and contributions.”

Similarly, Libow’s donations have been instrumental to the band program, allowing for the purchase of new music and equipment.

“Michael Libow’s generosity has enabled our band program to thrive, and for that we are all extremely grateful,” Assistant Drum Major Evan Timmerman said.

In addition to financially supporting the Performing Arts Department, Libow shows his support by attending and interacting with their performances. Most recently, Libow sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Homecoming game on Oct. 20. Click to listen.

Through his actions, Libow hopes that he will impart a legacy onto his alma mater.

I hope what I do will inspire others in the community to do the same. I hope they will step forward to do what I do [and donate to public schools],” Libow said. “[I hope my] long term legacy is when I’m long gone, my name will still be there and somebody will hopefully look back and say, ‘He did a good job and he really tried to help in any way he could.’”

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