Juilliard awards many different scholarships to its students, but a recently established fund offers a different kind of financial aid. The David Pini Emergency Medical Fund, honoring the actor, director, and dance company manager David Pini, helps students in need meet the costs of health emergencies. It is the first fund of its kind at Juilliard.
The high price of medical care is a familiar dilemma for many artists, which is why Victoria Sanders, a New York City literary agent, decided to honor the memory of her cousin, David Pini, with such a fund. As the lead donor, Sanders will never know who benefits from the fund, but she will have the satisfaction of alleviating potentially devastating medical costs for Juilliard students and will be informed when the funds are distributed.
Pini, a native of France, worked in dance and theater throughout his career and died last year, in his late-40s. He studied drama, along with Sanders, at N.Y.U.’s Tisch School of the Arts, and later entered the arts management field, working with groups like the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and, most recently, the Paris Opera. Sanders, who earned a degree from the Benjamin N. Cardoza School of Law at Yeshiva University, eventually launched her own literary agency, with clients that include the Zora Neale Hurston Trust, American Book Award recipient Jeff Chang, and the thriller writer Karin Slaughter.
Pini and Sanders shared a concern for the health care needs of artists. "It's not really sexy to think about people with emergency medical needs," Sanders said in a recent interview. However, she pointed out that just one health issue "could certainly put your career and your studies on hold for a significant period of time if you can't afford proper medical care."
Sanders chose to establish the fund at Juilliard because of the School's positive response when she proposed the idea and because Juilliard students tend to be highly committed to careers as performing artists. Both Pini and Sanders came from families in the entertainment business, and "even though none of us had ever gone to Juilliard," she said, "it seemed like the right place to put the endowment."
The fund will become accessible in the spring of 2011, and has been endowed by family and friends of David Pini at about $50,000.
Sanders hopes to increase the endowment, and she noted that the enthusiastic outlook of Victoria Brand, scholarship development manager at the School, is part of why she decided to place the fund here in the first place.
"I thought, well, if our fund, which, starting out [is] not significant in the grand scheme of endowments, is enough to get her excited, then it's the right place for it, because people are going to care about it."