Photo Credit: Geri Kodey
The late-winter light fades as dozens of boisterous children pour their energy into after-school theater class. Running the lines of the musical adaptation of Aladdin has them captivated. They aren’t rehearsing for just any school play, though. On Tuesday, March 10, these kids, and dozens more, will take the spotlight at The Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle.
This is all part of Disney’s effort to bring arts programs back to underserved schools. Disney began partnering with New York City schools for its initiative, Disney Musicals in Schools, back in 2009. Since then, Disney has expanded its reach to serve more than 60 schools nationwide. Seattle Theatre Group (STG) is the first organization in Washington to be part of the campaign. After receiving a $100,000 grant, STG went to work placing teaching artists in five Title I schools and giving them the resources needed to prepare students for the musical performances ahead.
“On this wonderful day, [the students] will not only get to perform on The Moore stage, they’ll also have a small rehearsal and really feel what it’s like to work in the theater,” says STG Community Programs Manager Sarah Loritz.
Anyone who has marched along with the high school band or earned a standing ovation as a fledgling thespian knows that school arts curriculums are great creative outlets. Unfortunately, they are also often the first to go in underfunded schools. According to research, this is a big mistake.
“Studies show that arts access improves attendance rates, lowers disciplinary rates, and helps raise test scores in other subject areas,” says Randy Engstrom, Seatte’s Director of Arts & Cultural Affairs. “This type of program is especially vital for students who may not have many opportunities to interact with the arts either in or out of the school day.”
Seventeen weeks of preparing, rehearsing and learning the ins and outs of stage production will all culminate in one incredible performance for the children of Van Asselt, Emerson, West Seattle, White Center Heights and Mount View Elementary Schools. March 10 is sure to be a day they’ll never forget.
“After a successful first year, we hope to continue this programs for many years to come,” says Vicky Lee, Director of Education and Performance Programs at STG.
As a proud supporter of STG and Disney Musicals in Schools, we’re excited to cheer on children during this free performance. Those wishing to be part of the magic or would like to bring this program to their school can click here for more details.