Interview: Theatre Education Spotlight on Broadway Bound Kids

Broadway Bound Kids is a nonprofit providing a transformative and inclusive environment that inspires youth through performing arts education.

By: Nov. 21, 2023
Interview: Theatre Education Spotlight on Broadway Bound Kids
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Broadway Bound Kids is a nonprofit providing a transformative and inclusive environment that inspires NYC youth through performing arts education. They provide comprehensive, interactive theatre programs for students, Pre-K through 12th Grade that focus on enhancing technical skills, social emotional learning, confidence, connection, mindfulness, and creativity. 

BroadwayWorld spoke with Broadway Bound Kids' educators and students on why arts education and access is so important, their favorite parts of being involved in the programming, how theatre has changed the students, and much more! 

What is Broadway Bound Kids' mission?

Lizzie McGuire, Executive Director: Our mission is to provide access to performing arts education to all students. We serve about 1,600 kids in all five boroughs, and we constantly challenge ourselves to break down barriers, to provide access to students that don't have it.  

Can you tell us a little bit more about your different programming throughout NYC?

Lizzie: Broadway Bound Kids (BBK) serves students through three different buckets of programing. So we offer afterschool and in-school residencies to New York City schools, public schools, charter schools, and private schools. Those residencies are based on what those communities need. So, sometimes [for example] we work with an English Language Arts class and we'll do a Hamilton inspired residency and the kids will write and perform their own versions of the rap - so they're engaging in language, learning in a different way... all the way up to a full-out, full-tilt musical after school. 

Interview: Theatre Education Spotlight on Broadway Bound Kids Then we work with the Department of Education in partnership with the Shubert Foundation and Musical Theater International on the Broadway Jr. Grant. That's us going into schools and teaching teachers how to produce a musical. This grant is awarded to middle schools that do not have access to putting on their own show, and have probably never put on their own musical. So we send Teaching Artists out to those sites to help classroom teachers learn how to do it themselves!

Then finally, we do in-house programing. We self-produce, self register, and get the word out to all of our communities, they audition for us, - and we let every kid in, of course!

So it really runs the gamut. Those students can start with us in fourth grade and stay all the way through their graduation, which is one of the most special parts!

Why is arts education and access so important?

Metri Lyons, Teaching Artist: Arts education is important because it gives students a nontraditional pathway to learn about their studies and learn about themselves. When you're learning about arts education, you're building people skills, you're learning about yourself, you're knocking down insecurities, but you're also taking those things and placing them in academics. And since you're not sitting in a chair all the time it requires more movement and self-discovery and critical thinking. I think it just molds kids, and people in general, to be superstars and confident in everything that they do. 

Nick Prez, Teaching Artist: We're allowing students to feel comfortable taking risks. Arts are so important to allow students to take chances and believe in themselves and find confidence. Doing arts education, music, theater, performance in general, can affect public speaking, presenting in class, being in front and knowing what you need to say and having intention behind what you have to say. Those are all skills that you can take to the bank! It's not just in theater, it's not just in music. So arts is so important to establish community and bring students together and give them the confidence to speak their minds. 

What is your favorite part about Broadway Bound Kids?

Seryna Javier, BBK Student: My favorite part is meeting new people. I'm not a social butterfly, so it's nice finding new friends and finding people who share my same interests. 

Priyanka Joseph, BBK Student: The people are just so fun. (To Seryna) I would have never met you without this. So I love you dearly and I really like the community. The community that we have is so close knit and it's just amazing. It's so fun. 

Nick: I feel like the go-to answer is the students, because I do love my students. I think they're so talented and something I've noticed is that the students are so hungry for the material. They come in and they're so ready and enthusiastic. And it actually also inspires me as a teacher - you're still learning. 

Interview: Theatre Education Spotlight on Broadway Bound Kids Lizzie: It's when I see something unlock in a student that they didn't know was there before - it's growth. It's also the wonderful way that you see a kid celebrating themselves. If it means that they star on Broadway, that's great. But that's not really the point. It's about them finding that confidence, finding that self-acceptance and then forging those relationships. 

Going off of that, how have you seen kids personally change and evolve through Broadway about kids? 

Metri: What's important about this program is that when the kids come here we really like to place them in things that they normally wouldn't see themselves in, to give them that opportunity to really find other facets of themselves. It's so cool to see the kids' expression in the way that they dress, how that changes over time - in the way they speak, them getting more confident, more sure of their opinions and who they are, their self-identity, their self-discovery.

Seryna: Performing wasn't my most favorite thing to do, but after doing this program, I've become more confident in myself. I've applied that to all aspects of my life at this point and it's great!

Priyanka: I feel like this program has really opened me up to more theater because I wasn't really that big on theater before this. And now it's just like, I'm here, I'm living, I'm thriving!

Seryna: And you're a raging theatre kid! (Laughs)

Interview: Theatre Education Spotlight on Broadway Bound Kids What's next for Broadway Bound Kids? What can people do if they want to get involved or help BBK continue serving the New York City theatre community?

Lizzie: We are working very hard to provide programing to our schools, to our students that is free and 100% accessible. Right now we're able to do that in our in-house programs. They are tuition free, which is amazing. We're so proud of that and we want to continue to work on ways to serve our partners' schools without having to rely on school budgets or city funding.

So you can help us if you want to get involved, volunteer, reach out to us or donate! We're holding a Giving Tuesday month-long campaign this month ending on November 30th. You can find all the information you could ever dream of on our website, and all of the proceeds from that fundraiser will go to sustaining our tuition-free, in-house programs and also offering our schools more affordable, easier access to our programs. We can offer the school the funds, we can be the grant maker, we can be the provider of all of it so our partners don't have to worry!