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Impact Broadway Takes 200 High School Students to GODSPELL

Impact Broadway Takes 200 High School Students to GODSPELL

In May and June 2012, Impact Broadway and Godspell joined forces to give high school students a chance to see Godspell on Broadway. The Youth Impact Broadway Project, Inc. is a socially and technology driven youth audience development program which engages African-American and Latino high school students from the five NYC boroughs in the Broadway experience.

Impact Broadway enables African-American and Latino students to experience live Broadway Theater Productions in an empowering way, and facilitates outings to Broadway and off-Broadway shows every season, including In the Heights, A Free Man of Color, West Side Story, Fela!, Memphis, The Lion King, Stick Fly, Brazil, Brazil and more. Through comprehensive historical and cultural education events, post-and pre-show discussions, and other offerings, Impact Broadway helps African-American and Latino students see themselves as meaningful participants, and potential leaders in the Theater and entertainment industries. Moreover, the program’s online platform, newsletter, in-school activities, and outer-borough performance outings help to ensure students experience and develop an understanding of the broad and diverse world of performing arts in their own communities and the underappreciated history of diversity in American performing arts.

“Seeing Godspell was a truly godly experience!" said Erica Giglio, Musical Theater Teacher, Brooklyn Arts High School. "The show generated so much conversations with my theater students and I about ensemble theater, the Bible, colorblind casting, and of course the incredible song compositions of Stephen Schwartz. We cannot thank impact Broadway enough for affording us the opportunity to be part of the audience. As a musical theater teacher, I was so happy my students could experience a show where they saw actors and a story on stage that they could genuinely relate to.”

“My students were very excited about the Godspell performance," echoed Brenda Glasse, Advisor for High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture (HS CTEA). "The interaction between the audience and the cast members, the young cast, and the creativity of the dancing and singing was very powerful and had them mesmerized.”

Ken Davenport, Davenport Theatrical Enterprises and donors from around the country helped Impact Broadway raise more than $9,000 toward Godpsell tickets, giving students an opportunity to see the Broadway show before its closing this June. 200 students attended and participated in talk backs with the cast after the show. Afterwards students had dinner at Applebee’s and participated in a discussion about the show with their peers and teachers. Corbin Bleu met with the students and took photographs as well.

"Godspell is about spreading joy and love. And thanks to Impact Broadway, we were able to spread that joy and love to a whole lot of young people that had never seen a Broadway show before," said Ken Davenport of Davenport Theatrical Enterprises. "And for me there is nothing more exciting than seeing the face of someone who has just experienced their first Broadway show."

This grassroots level of fundraising has allowed Impact Broadway to continue its efforts to give African-American and Latino students the Broadway experience. In addition to the five schools who participated in this past season, new students from Brooklyn Theater Arts High School and William McKinley High School were introduced to the program and the Broadway experience. In the past, Impact Broadway received its core funding from the New York City Theater Sub-district Initiative. Since the end of the 2-year grant, Impact Broadway has solicited support from the Broadway community to help subsidize program costs, like student tickets.

Impact Broadwaywas founded in 2009 by Donna Walker-Kuhne and Cherine Anderson. To-date the program has engaged 750 African American and Latino students from high schools and colleges throughout the 5 New York City boroughs. This program helps establish a future generation of audiences and build a socially responsible citizenship within the African American and Latino communities.

The current Impact Broadway schools are: Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy (Bronx), Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School (Brooklyn), the High School for Construction, Trades, Engineering, and Architecture (Queens), Hillcrest High School (Queens), and Manhattan Theatre Lab High School (Manhattan).

The program continues to gain momentum as a unique youth theater initiative and has attracted a diverse Board of Advisors including Isisara Bey, LaChanze, Colman Domingo, Alia Jones and Will Power. To further Impact Broadway’s objectives and values, the program partners with arts organizations throughout the New York City boroughs including, Brooklyn Center for the Arts, Harlem Stage, Pregones Theatre and Queens Theatre in the Park. In addition to the Broadway outings and educational programs, the students also received an Impact Broadway discount card which is used in the theater sub-district for discounts at restaurants and attractions. The deep commitment of the Theater industry is reflected within each student experience, from attending a theater production, interacting with the production’s actors and crew at a post-show talk back, to dining at an established Times Square attraction such as Applebee’s, Dave and Busters and others.

The program is preparing to enter its fourth season when the 2012-2013 school year kicks off in September. During the summer Impact Broadway will launch a fundraising initiative to raise money for the upcoming season. Naming and underwriting opportunities, as well as committee participation on our programming, special event, and governing committees are among the recognition benefits.

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