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Oregon Shakespeare Festival Receives 'World of Work' Grant to Support Expansion of PEEPS

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Receives 'World of Work' Grant to Support Expansion of PEEPS
2013 PEEPS participants

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Professional Education and Experience Program for Students (PEEPS) is one of eight "Connecting Students to the World of Work" projects to receive funds from the Oregon Arts Commission (OAC) to help introduce underserved Oregon students to arts-related industries. The $26,000 World of Work Grant will support an expansion of PEEPS-OSF's on-the-job program for Rogue Valley high school students-to include formal skills instruction, more students, travel stipends, and more OSF company members as mentors.

"Making our program more accessible to low-income participants has been a goal of ours for years," says Claudia Alick, OSF's associate producer, community. "We are so grateful to the OAC for the support they are providing to help students get live experience working in theater. These are life skills they'll be able to use throughout their adult lives no matter what industry they work in."

A total of $281,535 was awarded to World of Work projects, the OAC announced Dec. 18; other recipients include the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (Eugene), Lane Arts Council (Eugene), Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland), PDX Pop Now (Portland), Peter Britt Gardens Music & Arts Festival Association (Medford), Techstart Education Foundation (Portland), and The Center for Advanced Learning (Gresham).

"This grant program is a powerful opportunity to make strategic investments in some of Oregon's most underserved youth populations," says Deb Vaughn, arts education coordinator for the Oregon Arts Commission. "A strong body of research demonstrates that the arts contribute to academic success for high school students from low socio-economic backgrounds, English language learners and students with special needs. Students show an improvement in state test scores, increased attendance and participation, reduced drop-out rates and higher likelihood of completion a post-secondary degree-all outcomes which align with Oregon's 40-40-20 graduation goal. We look forward to seeing the results of these powerful projects and using their success to increase investment in projects like these going forward."

"The impact of PEEPS on the students is priceless," says Cassie Fetty, OSF's producing assistant, community. "We will now have the resources to make this program accessible because with this grant we can open the door to students who wouldn't normally be able to participate because of their proximity to the Festival and their economic status. We have a real opportunity to keep theatre alive and in the hearts of those who might not otherwise have a chance to experience this field of work in a hands-on, educational atmosphere. I'm so glad that Oregon is willing to invest in the arts and our future in this way."

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1935 and guided by the following mission statement: "Inspired by Shakespeare's work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory."

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