Van Wezel Uses Broadway League Grant to Partner with Booker High School Law Academy
For 16 years, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has been a partner in education with the Sarasota County School Board. Serving approximately 25,000 students each year, the Van Wezel is happy to announce that it has been awarded a highly competitive education grant given to just 10 theatres across the country by The Broadway League, which is the national trade association for the Broadway industry, composed of over 700 theatre owners and operators, producers, presenters, and general managers in North America.
This program marks a partnership with the new Booker High School Law Academy; a program that offers students the opportunity to receive an educational foundation in the legal profession and criminal justice system at the local, state, and national level. The project will include an exploration of various themes within Chicago: The Musical connected to criminal justice, and include guest speakers from within the Sarasota Community connected to each week's topic. The main objective of the program is to connect Chicago: The Musical's provocative dramatic themes and characters to contemporary issues in criminal law while reinforcing the students' knowledge and ability to participate in the "theatrics" of the Academy's mock trial proceedings and stimulating an appreciation of the value of Broadway theatre and the educational aspect of what it offers high school students who may otherwise lack meaningful arts experiences.
Students will take part in monthly workshops, exploring different themes from the show. They will look at source material such as the original cases that served as inspiration, as well as scenes and material from the production to enhance their discussions.
Van Wezel Director of Education and Community Engagement, Kelli Bragdon stated, "This is a very exciting opportunity to partner with Booker High School's Law Academy to provide innovative arts integration strategies to a law and criminal studies curriculum. We are thrilled to partner with this outstanding school program, and look forward to exploring the ethics and glamorization of today's legal system through the lens of the Broadway production Chicago: The Musical. I think this will be a truly innovative approach, and model how arts organizations can partner with school programs to provide content rich experiences to students."
The project will begin this fall in October, 2013 and will continue with 5 monthly in school workshops featuring guest speakers from the legal system, journalism, and the arts to facilitate discussions on topics such as "the celebrity criminal." Michelle Anderson, Law Academy Coordinator sees this as "an amazing opportunity for the Law Academy students to experience their classroom curriculum transformed and translated into artistic expression." Workshops begin in November, 2013 and run through March, 2014. Following the March 4rd performance of Chicago: The Musical, there will be a wrap up roundtable discussion following the play, date to be determined, and a project evaluation.