You might have heard this little soundbite Sunday night:
“Every day through engagement in the arts, our children learn to open their imaginations to dream just a little bigger and to strive every day to reach those dreams.”Even if you didn't catch it live, you might have heard about Michelle Obama's appearance at the Oscars through some media outlet. While there seems to be some debate about whether or not it was appropriate to cut to the White House camera for the delivery of the news of the Oscars' top prize, I can't imagine that anyone can argue with Mrs. Obama's stated sentiment about engaging children in the arts.
At least, I know that I can't. But I would like to elaborate on the sentiment and point out that not only does engagement in the arts enable children to open their imaginations and strive to reach dreams, but it prepares them for learning and work in many areas. Arts learning helps students develop 21st century learning skills and requires development of teamwork and cooperation skills. At Sangamon Auditorium, we strive to facilitate programs that enable local students to deepen their engagement in the arts.
Our flagship education program, Class Acts, is a matinee performance series that students attend with their teachers. Each year, we assemble a series of performances that cover a broad range of subject areas and grade levels. This season has included: Rock the Presidents, a middle-school introduction to all the presidents in close proximity to the national election; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for high school literature students; and later this week, elementary students will enjoy a play based on the well-loved literary chant, We're Going on a Bear Hunt. For all the performances, we provide age-appropriate study materials for teachers to use in the classroom.
Partners in Education is a program offered in conjunction with Springfield Public Schools and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Through this program, Sangamon Auditorium provides professional development opportunities for teachers in the arts and arts integration.
Arts Start enables Sangamon Auditorium to reach local Head Start students, families, and teachers so they can benefit from engagement in the arts. Funded by PNC Bank's Grow Up Great initiative, the Arts Start program is now in its second year. We are pleased to work with the Springfield Urban League and the great staff of Springfield and Central Illinois PNC on this effort.
There are other engagement efforts as well. The ClassPass program offers discounts to K-12 teachers so they can bring students to weekend/evening events. We work with faculty on the UIS campus to develop opportunities for UIS students to engage with our programming. We offer pre- and post-show discussions, master classes and workshops to the public and to identified interest groups in the community. Have an idea? Want to see something in particular offered. Let me know!