American Conservatory Theater Receives Theatre Forward Staging Success Contribution Supported By AT&T

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) announced it is part of the Theatre Forward Staging Success Initiative supported by AT&T. This initiative will study the aggregate results of four programs across the country to measure and evaluate the impact of theatre education on school engagement and participation. The Staging Success study, benefiting almost entirely Title 1 students, spans a two-year time period, tracking participation, school engagement and students’ beliefs and attitudes over time with exposure to 21st-century skills.

In addition to supporting American Conservatory Theater, Staging Success will measure programs at Dallas Theater Center, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. Theatre Forward is committed to advancing American theatre and its communities by providing funding and other resources to their membership of 19 of the country’s leading nonprofit theatres. This includes The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

Bruce E. Whitacre, Theatre Forward Executive Director said, “Theatre Forward is honored to have the support of AT&T to help demonstrate the impact of theatre education on at-risk high school students’ engagement in school. AT&T’s support recognizes the crucial roles these theatre education programs play in their communities, and acknowledges the commitment of American Conservatory Theater to ensuring it meets the needs of young people at this formative point in their lives. Staging Success brings greater rigor to the process of defining and documenting outcomes of theatre education initiatives, and helps to fulfill our vision to increase access and opportunity for all. Theatre builds community and sets the stage for individual achievement. We are looking forward to working on this project with all our partners, and to helping advance theatre education around the country with these findings.”

“The opportunity gap is not only about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), it’s also about the arts,” said Ken McNeely, President, AT&T California. “Exposure to theater can provide opportunities to help engage students in learning and build valuable life skills in the process. AT&T is extremely proud to support Theatre Froward’s Staging Success initiative benefiting the American Conservatory Theater, which is engaging at-risk students in learning and personal discovery through storytelling and performance.”

“We are deeply grateful to be included in Theatre Forward’s Staging Success Initiative,” says A.C.T. Director of Education & Community Programs Elizabeth Brodersen. “Theater can make a huge difference in young people’s lives, fostering the creativity, innovation, empathy, self-efficacy, and self-advocacy necessary to make a difference in our increasingly polarized civic society and to thrive in today’s complex global economy. We are so thankful for AT&T’s support in helping us measure this impact locally.”

A.C.T.’s ACTsmart Intensive Residencies serve a high percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged youth who have not experienced success in traditional schools; many are at risk of dropping out of school. In these residencies, theatre plays a critical role in encouraging regular attendance and providing tools for students’ success in school and life. Through theatre, students are encouraged to explore the social issues most relevant to their lives. Students come together to discuss fiction, plays, and articles on current events, to identify and research common themes that they tie in with their English language arts and social studies curriculum, in addition to writing personal monologues and collaborating together on short plays and culminating performances.

Under the leadership of Director of Education & Community Programs Elizabeth Brodersen, A.C.T.’s community-based educational efforts deeply involve it in the creative lives of diverse young people and adults from across the Bay Area and show it firsthand the transformative potential of dramatic storytelling. ACTsmart—which serves more than 12,000 students each year—consists of one of the oldest Student Matinee (SMAT) programs in the country, offering schools low-cost tickets to mainstage and A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program performances; Will on Wheels, the annual tour of a Shakespeare classic performed in schools and community venues; the ACTsmart Partnership Program, providing tickets to A.C.T. productions, study guides, and workshops—all at no cost—to teachers at partner schools and community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve low-income youth and adults; the ACTsmart Intensive Residency Program, which provides instruction in writing and performance for socioeconomically disadvantaged youth; and the Collaborative Youth Arts Project, which each summer brings together a diverse cast of young actors from ACTsmart, the A.C.T. Young Conservatory, and Destiny Arts Center in Oakland to create a commissioned play articulating the needs and challenges of youth in today’s world. A.C.T. also offers Back to the Source, an immersive summer institute for educators who use theater techniques in the classroom, as well as ongoing professional development during the school year.

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