LAS VEGAS - With new state and federal budgets cutting artistic programs in public schools, private companies and professional association members are stepping up to sustain them.

One recent example comes from Pictage, which is an association of professional photographers, who went to work with Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas to host a photography education day. The half-day event, “Lens & Learn: Inspiring Kids with Photography,” benefited more than 100 boys and girls.

“This photography education day is an excellent example of our commitment, one which helps us expand our portfolio of program activities in the arts, and in education and career development," said Dulcinea Almazan, executive director and chief operating officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas.

The program commenced with a class of photography basics. The first lesson included the importance of choosing content and the strategy in which to present it by using perspective, framing and lighting choices. Next, students learned the fundamentals of operating a digital Canon SLR camera. Understanding how the camera's aperture, f-stop, focal length and shutter speed operate together is key in producing a professional photograph.

Following the photography class, a photo “scavenger hunt” was set at the Springs Preserve. The challenge: to apply the photography basics they were taught and turn it into real world experience. The photos taken during the “scavenger hunt” were printed and made into a portfolio for each student to take home.

“It’s our sincere hope that this event encourages boys and girls of all ages to fully explore the creative appeal of photography, as a hobby or as a career, and we’re excited about doing many more of these experiential workshops across the country with this great organization and others,” said Jim Collins, chief executive officer of Pictage, Inc., and a passionate amateur photographer.

Companies and associations can make a big difference in our communities when federal and state funding is cut. Partnerships, especially those between professionals and children, are vital in helping children learn the value of education and the arts.