As a new school year begins, students are looking for new ways to get involved in the arts. Many teachers integrate arts into the classroom, but where their resources end, our region’s many arts organizations keep art happening in and out of the classroom. For example, the STAGES Performing Arts Academy, run by STAGES St. Louis (an Arts and Education Council grantee), offers a variety of opportunities for our kids: 

1. They take an inclusive approach.

With Access the Arts, young people with physical, cognitive or developmental delays fully participate in the musical theatre arts program through classes, workshops and performance opportunities.

Taught by professionally trained teaching artists and special educators, Access the Arts includes year-round once-a-week classes, multi-week summer workshops as well as the performing ensemble Troupe Broadway which was created in 2007. Each year, Troup Broadway develops and rehearses a revue of classic musical theatre material which is performed throughout the St. Louis area and beyond.

2. They launch innovative programs.

Last year, STAGES was one of only two professional theatre companies nationally to launch the Educational Theatre Association’s JumpStart Theatre program. The program equips non-theatre middle school teachers with the skills and resources to produce their school’s first musical through a proven combination of hands-on mentoring and boot-camp style training.

Margaret Buerkle Middle School in the Mehlville School District, Cross Keys Middle School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District and Coolidge Junior High School in the Granite City, IL Community Unit School District #9 were selected to participating during the 2018-19 school year. Three additional schools will participate in the 2019-20 school year.

3. They train triple threats.

STAGES also has two performance groups that offer individualized guidance and professional level musical theatre training. The Triple Threats (5th-8th grade students) and Triple Threat TEENS (high school students) have performance opportunities each spring. This April, STAGES Performing Arts Academy was selected by Music Theatre International to present a pilot production of “The Drowsy Chaperone Jr.”. The junior version like the award-winning “The Drowsy Chaperone” is a parody of the American musical comedy of the 1920s. The Triple Threats and Triple Threat TEENS saw firsthand what goes into working on a new production while they acted, sang and danced.

Their impact on arts education is one of the reasons STAGES co- founders Jack Lane and Michael Hamilton will be honored at the 2020 St. Louis Arts Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts on January 27.

Learn more about how our 70+ grantees keep art happening year-round.

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