Showing posts with label Arts in Education Program. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arts in Education Program. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

100 students participate in TO THE PROMSIED LAND Workshop

Students discuss different themes that are represented
On Tuesday, January 29, students from Milwaukee Jewish Day School and Milwaukee College Prep participated in a special pre-show workshop before seeing the world premiere of TO THE PROMISED LAND.  Students worked together to explore themes from the play with First Stage teaching artists, Director Sheri Williams Pannell and volunteers from Future Milwaukee.  The workshop included activities based on the historical context of the play and prominent themes represented throughout the show. “The play is about the journey of a young person searching for truth while struggling with the tests that come with life in an urban setting,” said Director Sheri Williams Pannell. “TO THE PROMISED LAND serves as a catalyst to encourage dialogue about Milwaukee history,” she continued.

First Stage Education Director Julia Magnasco works closely with Milwaukee College Prep throughout the year planning field trips, literacy residencies, and theater workshops.  This is this first time the two schools were brought together to learn through theater and participate in a workshop like this. 

During the "What do you stand for?" exercise, students created
a sculpture titled "Stop the violence"
The activities were centered on themes including courage, endurance, perseverance, justice and equality.  The interactive sessions demonstrated inequality and offered an opportunity for discussion and exploring feelings associated with injustice.  Next, students participated in a dialogue about quotes from the show and their relevance to real life.  Lastly, the groups worked on an activity titled “What do you stand for?” by creating a sculpture with their bodies depicting an issue of injustice or importance that they feel strongly about and illustrating how they can make a difference. 
 The workshop was a success and, not only did the students enjoy the activities, but they also enjoyed meeting one another, sharing contact information, and making new friends in the process. 

Check out the photo gallery from this event on our Facebook page

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Positive effects: Arts education and the emotional intelligence (EQ) of children

by Jennifer Hubbartt
On Tuesday, May 15, First Stage’s Rob Goodman joined a panel of a few of his fellow arts leaders to speak at the American Marketing Association’s May luncheon, to discuss “Arts Education and the Emotional Intelligence of Children: The Positive Effects of the Arts on Our Community’s Children.”  Other speakers sharing the podium were Deanna Tillisch, President and CEO of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF); Fran Richman, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), and Deborah Farris, Executive Director of Danceworks.  Each of these groups was among seven arts groups that participated in a 2010 study by Reinders Research, in partnership with the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, which examined the impact of arts education on emotional intelligence (EQ), particularly among underserved students.
EQ – described by research firm Six Seconds as “being smart with feelings so you can develop optimal relationships with yourself and others.”  Tillisch explained further by saying “one who possesses positive EQ skills is a healthy, mature individual who recognizes the complexity of life, knows who s/he is, has defined a path to follow, and retains a zest for life.” 

The 2010 study was modeled after research First Stage was already conducting.  According to UPAF’s summary of the study presented at this meeting, the study included a sample of 547 students – 101 involved in First Stage programming – from 23 Milwaukee Public Schools and charter schools.  The sample was representative of Milwaukee area children who are economically disadvantaged, the ethnic makeup reflected the service populations of participating organizations and the age range was from 6-18+ (children ages 9-11 were the largest group). 

Remarkably, the study shows that 48% of the students experienced a positive EQ change between their pre- and post-test.  Students with the lowest “starting” EQ benefitted the most from arts education programming, proving the positive impact of arts education on a child’s emotional intelligence, reinforcing what each participating arts group already knew about the importance of the programs it provides.

First Stage’s mission – like the other groups participating in the study – has arts education by serving young people throughout our community at its core, as Goodman described during the discussion:

“First Stage’s mission is to touch hearts, engage minds, and transform lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through our professional Theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain; our unparalleled Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills; and our dynamic Theater in Education programs that promote active learning in our schools and community.”

For all people – especially young people – Goodman states that “the arts are something that we have to have.  It sustains us; it’s what makes us people,” Goodman continued. 

When asked for thoughts on the next steps to ensure that arts education remains in the community, Goodman offered that “we need to build an Education Resource Center, so that we can provide professional development to teachers to be able to keep arts-integrated methods in their classrooms and further develop the positive EQ of their students.”

To learn more about First Stage’s arts-integrated programs through its Theater in Education department, click hereFor details on First Stage’s portion of the 2010 study, click here

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Young audience members write touching letters to the Herzfeld Foundation

By Mithra Ballesteros, First Stage Children's Theater

Last week, busloads of elementary students from the Milwaukee area arrived at First Stage Children's Theater for the production, ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY.  Following the performance, they participated in an interactive classroom workshop, exploring themes from the play.  All of this was made possible with a grant from the Herzfeld Foundation, which funded the cost of the buses, the tickets, and the workshops. 

Many of these students have very limited access to the arts.  They rely on their schools to provide exposure to music, theater, and art.  Yet as the Milwaukee Public Schools struggle to find financing for arts and music education, the potential for these children to be excluded from any arts experience grows.  Research has shown that arts education boosts reading scores, enhances abilities to problem-solve, extends attention spans, and increases the odds that a student will go on to graduate school.  (Links below to these studies.)  Yet more and more districts are narrowing their curriculum at the expense of arts education.

The Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation's Arts in Education grant assuages the negative effect of budget deficits.  It knits together lower-income students who need arts education, and First Stage Children's Theater, who needs audiences.  The hidden benefit, that is really not so hidden, at least not to the children whose notes are included here, is that the Herzfeld grant represents the best kind of community-building. It provides the means for students to take advantage of Milwaukee arts and culture organizations.  We at First Stage are grateful for the support.  And we take pleasure in sharing some of the thank you notes written by these children to the Herzfeld Foundation.
"Thanks for letting my class and I see you guys act.  I liked when Alexander steps in the drum and tries doing kung fu.  And the copying machine shooting out blank papers."

"I liked the part when Alexander didn't wake up and his brothers said Peter Pan took him to Neverland."
"Dear the members of the play, I enjoyed the play very much.  I hope you enjoyed acting.  I liked the parts when you start singing.  It was one of the best plays I ever went to."
"Thank you for the play that you showed us about Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and thank you for inviting us to the play and thanks for helping pay for us to see the play and I like when Alexander got gum in his hair."
"I liked everything when they were singing and when Alex almost falls.  I like the part when they danced.  When Alex tried to fight.  I like the part when his dad gave his son high fives. I like when the dentist said 1. no cavities, 2. no cavities, 3. cavity."
"Thank you for the play.  So if you have another one, can you n-vite us.  So if you have a new play that you want to show us then give us a call if you know our number."
"Dear Alexander and the other characters and the people who create this play, thank you for letting us watch.  The play was funny and cool.  I like when Alexander kicks his dad's books and when he drops his towel in the bathroom sink.  Hope you guys create another play."
"Dear people of the play, thank you for inviting us to the place.  It was gorgeous there.  The mom has a wonderful voice.  Alexander is so funny.  P.S.  I'm going to sign up for choir."

To read more about the importance of arts education, check out these links: