For film and TV legend Dick Van Dyke, donating his time to support local high school music programs is all about perpetuating an art form that’s crucial to the advancement of society.
“Without music, we’re dead,” said Van Dyke, one of America’s most beloved actors, who has starred in a number of timeless classics, including “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” “Music and art are the glue that holds civilization together.”
At 84, Van Dyke is starring for the 10th straight year in an annual benefit concert in which all net proceeds will be donated to area public school music programs, which badly need funding because of state and local cuts.
This year’s show, “Wishing on a Star,” will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. It will feature Van Dyke singing songs made famous in Disney musicals like “Mary Poppins,” “Pinocchio” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” He also will serve as the emcee, introducing and performing with five high school choral groups from Oxnard, Oak Park, Newbury Park, Simi Valley and Woodland Hills.
In light of budget cuts in public school arts programs, this year’s show is more important than ever, said Van Dyke, a Malibu resident.
“They called me 10 years ago when all of a sudden they couldn’t afford musical instruments or sheet music anymore. We can’t create a generation of robots,” he said.
“This show gets better every year,” he said. “We pack ’em in. You wouldn’t believe the talent these kids have.”