Smith Center Receives $100,000 Grant from Disney

Smith Center Receives $100,000 Grant from Disney

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts has received a $100,000 grant from Disney. The award is being used to fund the Disney Musicals in Schools program, an outreach initiative that creates sustainable theatre programs in elementary schools.

"At the heart of The Smith Center mission is dedication to providing meaningful education experiences for our community," said Candy Schneider, vice president of education and outreach for The Smith Center. "Disney's generous grant allows us to launch Disney Musicals in Schools in six of our high-need schools."

Disney Musicals in Schools was launched in response to Disney Theatrical Group's concern that low-income students in urban, public schools were not afforded equitable access to the arts. After successfully offering the program in New York City schools, Disney Theatrical Group began partnering with organizations in other communities around the United States. The Smith Center marks the second such partnership, following a successful launch at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.

"We're thrilled by the progress The Smith Center has made in bringing sustainable theatre programs to Las Vegas schools, and providing quality arts-instruction to public school students," said Disney Theatrical Group president and producer Thomas Schumacher. "Disney Musicals in Schools at The Smith Center is a unique collaboration between three diverse organizations: The Smith Center (a non-profit performing arts center), Clark County School District, and Disney Theatrical Group, which have joined forces in an effort to get more kids involved in the arts."

Theatre activities address imagination, creativity, problem-solving, teamwork, communication skills, and so many more goals of classroom learning. Schools that were interested in applying for the program had to demonstrate fiscal need, as well as how participation in the program would support the goals identified in their school improvement plans. As part of the program, The Smith Center and Disney Theatrical Group trained and placed teaching artists in after-school programs. The teaching artists' roles are to produce the chosen Disney KIDS musical and work with educators to create a sustainable theatre program on their campus. At no cost to them, the schools received performance rights, educational support materials and guidance from the teaching artists.

This month, the participating schools will each present a performance at their school for family and friends. On Feb. 4, The Smith Center will host a culminating Student Share Celebration, at which each school will have the rare opportunity to perform a selection from its show on Southern Nevada's premier stage in Reynolds Hall. Josh Strickland, current star of VEGAS! The Show and past star of Tarzan on Broadway, will host the event.

The Smith Center will select five new schools to participate in the program during the 2014-2015 school year. Disney KIDS musicals, created in partnership with Music Theatre International (MTI), are about 30 minutes in length, and have been adapted from the classic Disney films Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, The Aristocats, Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Winnie the Pooh.

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