When Broadway shows go on tour, they don’t hit the road alone; the Broadway League makes sure that education and engagement efforts are ready to travel with them. With its National Education and Community Engagement Grants, a program now in its 19th year, the League grants organizations $5,000 each to help them develop and maintain educational programming associated with touring productions.
This year’s recipients include the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, who will work with third-grade teachers at Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy to teach workshops exploring multicultural representations of the Cinderella story as prep for seeing the tour of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella at the Buell Theatre next January. And “The Cinderella Transformation Project” will engage fourth- and fifth-grade students in West Palm Beach, Fla. in an exploration of themes surrounding body image and beauty standards, in conjunction with the musical’s run at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
Des Moines Performing Arts has already begun its League-funded curriculum in low-performing public schools around a tour of Disney’s The Lion King. Students in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will also embark on a Lion King-themed journey in conjunction with Broward Center for the Performing Arts‘ run of the show, with participants identifying the “Scar” (insecurity, inhibition, negativity) in their environments and working to find their inner “Simba” (strength, dreams, empowerment).
At the Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville, S.C., 150 theatre and band students at Travelers Rest High School will present “Raise Your Voice,” an educational project using Once as a platform to explore the relationships between a lyricist and composer. And at Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, 40 public high school drama students will join in a multi-week exploration of the themes and artistry of Pippin, including Fosse-style choreography and the history of the circus.
Rochester Broadway Theatre League will use its grant for “Touring Broadway Reaches to the Incarcerated,” a community engagement program in which incarcerated parents receive classroom learning experiences, then attend a Broadway musical (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, or Pippin) with their children upon their release.
In conjunction with the tour of Kinky Boots, the Arts Center and Theatre of Schenectady, Inc. will offer 40 students aged 13-18 a “Free To Be Me” outreach project, a series of workshops focused on activism techniques relating to body image and gender expression, provided in conjunction with the Pride Center of the Capital Region. For the Newsies tour, the Palace Theater in Watertown, Conn., will offer “Making Headlines,” an intensive, seven-week language arts and theatre appreciation program engaging high school and middle school students in a realistic “newsroom” environment providing hands-on journalism experience.
A program with a slightly more adult-professional focus is “Broadway Behind the Scenes: A Community Theatre Partnership” at Clowes Memorial Hall in Indianapolis. This is designed as a professional development series for 25 technical crew members from Indianapolis community theatres, in conjunction with Broadway Across America-Indianapolis’ presentations of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Dirty Dancing.
The League has also added four $2,500 education-and-engagement grants to its annual roster. The recipients are Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, Wisc.; Hennepin Theatre Trust in Minneapolis, Minn.; Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Fla.; and Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Fla.