Touchstone Theatre Concludes First Season of Partnerships with Local Businesses
Touchstone Theatre has announced the ending of its first successful year (2012-13) as a recipient of Education Improvement Tax Incentive monies (EITC). In partnership with Air Products, Lafayette Ambassador Bank, Capital Blue Cross, Embassy Bank, PPL and PNC Bank, Touchstone's Young Playwrights and Building Bridges educational programs helped advance literacy and the acquisition of life skills for hundreds of students in the Lehigh Valley.
"EITC is a powerful and important tool now," states Lisa Jordan, Touchstone's Managing Director. "With EITC, Touchstone is able to provide arts programming so desperately needed at many area schools. We are proud to partner with these generous businesses to make a positive change in our community."
Young Playwrights is a school-based student residency program developed by Touchstone Theatre and the Bethlehem Area School District to improve attitudes towards and competency in literacy among students. Building Bridges was created by the Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 and Touchstone Theatre to serve at-risk teens from different classrooms, schools, or neighborhoods and utilizes theatre as a means to improve coping and life skills.
The Young Playwrights Program was carried out seven times at six schools (Central Elementary School and Harrison-Morton Middle School in the Allentown School District and Donegan Elementary School, Dual Language Charter School, Freemansburg Elementary School and Lincoln Elementary School in the Bethlehem Area School District). Of the 80+ plays written by third through eighth graders, six were performed at the Young Playwrights' Festival in front of hundreds of audience members in Zoellner Arts Center's Baker Hall on May 18, 2013.
EITC funding supported the Building Bridges Program for the first time at Children's Home of Easton (C.H.E.) in Spring 2013. During sixteen sessions the at-risk teens learned basic theatre techniques and by the end of the residency created their own original show for classmates, teachers, and family members, performing on Touchstone's home stage at 321 East Fourth Street in Bethlehem.
The EITC program is a State administered arts/business partnership program that allows tax credits to eligible businesses contributing to a Scholarship Organization or Educational Improvement Organization that may be applied against the tax liability of that business. This year EITC support enabled Touchstone to reach seven different schools in the Bethlehem, Allentown and Easton School Districts.