American Theatre Guild Begins December Fundraising To Bring Broadway Experiences To Over 13,000 Youth

The program serves over 13,000 youth participants.

By: Dec. 05, 2023
American Theatre Guild Begins December Fundraising To Bring Broadway Experiences To Over 13,000 Youth
"To Kill A Mockingbird" cast members Yaegel T. Welch, Steven Lee Johnson, and Jacqueline Williams deliver notes to a Ruskin (Mo) theatre student 
during their visit to the school for "Staging the Future" master class session 

Staging the Future is a philanthropic outreach program of The American Theater Guild (ATGuild), the surprisingly mammoth Broadway presenter headquartered in Kansas City. ATGuild is the nation’s largest non-profit presenter of Broadway tours.  For the entire month of December and year round, ATGuild solicits and accepts donations that fund qualifying class trips to see Broadway touring productions when they set up for their normal runs in one of ATGuild’s thirteen member markets.

According to ATGuild Senior Director of Development and Community Relations Elaine Stolze, ATGuild’s Staging the Future (has grown the last two years) served over thirteen thousand students from under privileged or under resourced school districts and community organizations in the company’s thirteen markets so far.

American Theatre Guild Begins December Fundraising To Bring Broadway Experiences To Over 13,000 Youth
ATGuild Senior Development Director
Elaine Stoltze 

Providing the Broadway experience to more than thirteen thousand young people is certainly an exceptional outreach, but ATGuild has expanded the program so that students and educators get value added out of the experience. 

Through the vision of American Theatre Guild President Amy Hamm, Senior Development Director Elaine Stolze was tasked with expanding the program.  What originally might have just been a method to invite many young community members who could not ordinarily attend touring performances in our markets for financial reasons to something much broader.

Teacher and audience resources for every show that Theater Guild tours are available on the American Theatre Guild website. All teachers (and audience members) need do is access the unlocked Staging the Future website and click on the show they are seeing for a primer on the touring production. 

ATGuild has combined and provided study guides for almost every show they tour.   This year there are free study guides for twenty touring productions.   They are Anastasia, Hamilton, Hadestown, Lion King, Alladin, Dear Evan Hansen, Six, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, Come From Away, Stomp, Ain’t Too Proud, Cats, South Pacific, Buddy, Frozen, Moulin Rouge, Girl from the North Country, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Annie.

American Theatre Guild Begins December Fundraising To Bring Broadway Experiences To Over 13,000 Youth
American Theatre Guild President
Amy  Hamm

Students and teachers (and audience members) outside the participating coverage areas may also profit from the exceptional resources provided free to anyone who accesses the website. 

Other free services offered to students, educators, and the general public are videos on how to prepare for an audition, a master actor’s class, choreography, the personal Broadway story of some actors, tips on directing, working backstage, costume design, producing, casting, and lighting design. Show resources are provided courtesy of  The Broadway League.

Staging the Future is available in full to all Title 1 schools, and community organizations that focus at least fifty percent on underserved community members or challenged community members in ATGuild markets. 

American Theater Guild offers an application form for educators who might want their students to participate on their website.  It also reaches out to qualifying schools and organizations in each market.

American Theatre Guild Begins December Fundraising To Bring Broadway Experiences To Over 13,000 Youth
"To Kill A Mockingbird" Actor
Jacqueline Williams
responds to a student question during
the Ruskin High School Master Class  

“We continue to provide the resources because we think the arts are so important,” said Stolze.  “In previous year’s Staging the Future program, we were able to impact only about fifteen-hundred  students.  Today in 2023, we have provided opportunities to over thirteen thousand this far,” she said.

As a part of the outreach, I was put in touch with Kelly Michale, District Chair for Speech and Theatre at Ruskin High School.  This is the second year that Ruskin High Students and affiliated high schools students have participated in the program. 

In both years, ATGuild has provided tips on how to attend a live performance before the event. It has also arranged for members of the cast and/or crew to travel to the school site for live interaction with students. 

Last year, crew members from “Les Miserables” discussed the jobs that might be available in technical theater for over a hundred students. They discussed the challenges of touring a large Broadway show across the country. 

American Theatre Guild Begins December Fundraising To Bring Broadway Experiences To Over 13,000 Youth
Students at the Ruskin High School Master Class

This season, some of the lead actors from the touring company “To Kill A Mockingbird” talked with potential actors about their experiences.  Four students were tasked with performing a mock audition and heard feedback from the visitors including Jacqueline Williams (Calpurnia), Yaegel T. Welch (Tom Robinson), and Steven Lee Johnson (Dill Harris) from the cast.  Students were also gifted with copies of Harper Lee’s original novel in addition to tickets to the show.

Whenever possible members of touring casts and crews meet students for in-person master classes like the ones cited above.  In particular, programs for theater students and other underprivileged or under-resourced groups in the communities have been held in Kansas City, Birmingham Al, and Lubbock Tx.

The hope is to broaden the program to even more markets.   

American Theatre Guild Begins December Fundraising To Bring Broadway Experiences To Over 13,000 Youth
Crew members from the touring company of "Les Miserables" talk with students 
from Ruskin High School 

American Theater Guild presents Broadway tours nationwide. Participating communities are in Alabama (Birmingham), California ( Long Beach, Riverside, Santa Barbara,  and Thousand Oaks), Colorado (Colorado Springs), Florida (Melbourne), Illinois (Peoria), Indiana (South Bend), Missouri (Kansas City), Kansas (Wichita), Ohio (Toledo) and Texas (Lubbock).

To join The American Theatre Guild’s mission to foster passion, inspire creativity, and empower youth in our communities by providing the experience of live theatre through STAGING THE FUTURE, please visit https://am.ticketmaster.com/kansastl/quick-donate/NTMwNw%3D%3D. Donors will need to sign into an existing Ticketmaster account or take a few of minutes to create a new one. Donations of any size are much appreciated to help this worthwhile cause.

Photos courtesy of the American Theatre Guild




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