Fountain Theater Brings Cops, Kids Together for Community Building Program
Walking the Beat, a pioneering arts education program for inner city high school youth and police officers, is coming to Hollywood this summer, courtesy of the Fountain Theatre. Utilizing performing arts as a vehicle for youth empowerment and community building, Walking the Beat Hollywood will provide transformative experiences for underserved youth and police officers in a Fountain Theatre partnership with Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble, Hollywood Police Activities League and Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy.Inner city youth and LAPD officers will work together over the course of eight weeks to develop, write and perform a theater piece based on their own stories. The program will culminate with three free, public performances. Originated in 2016 by New Jersey's Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble's Theo Perkins andAngela Kariotis, Walking the Beat has proven to transform lives using a results-based arts education methodology and curriculum. Building confidence, character, communication skills and community, the program develops both an appreciation for our common humanity and a commitment to community and social justice in students and officers alike. According to Perkins, "As the number of deaths of young black men at the hands of police continues to grow in the U.S., so does the lack of trust between police officers and people of color. As an arts organization, we challenged ourselves to ask, 'what can we do to fix this? How can the arts be used as a tool to tackle these issues?' Walking the Beat works to reinforce positive interactions between police and young people through facilitated dialogue and improvisation." "This is an opportunity to share our process with Los Angeles," says Kariotis, who acts as curriculum director and program facilitator. "Most importantly we're sharing our imagination. We're modeling art as preventative and urgent care. Energy like this is contagious." Walking the Beat Hollywood will match ten students from six inner city high schools with five LAPD officers. "LAPD Hollywood is excited to partner with the Fountain to make Walking the Beat a reality," says Hollywood Division commanding officer Cory Palka. "This is another giant step in building trust in our community. It's an investment we must make. We look forward to the summer journey and the August production." Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy will host Walking the Beat's three culminating performances in August, offering the students an opportunity to perform on a college campus, further empowering them and helping them to envision themselves as important players in their immediate communities. Walking the Beat is supported in part by the Fountain Theatre, Deborah Culver, the Vladimir & Araxia Buckhantz Foundation, Robert and Carrie Meadow, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council, Dorothy Wolpert and the Shubert Foundation. Founded in 1990 by co-artistic directors Deborah Culver Lawlor and Stephen Sachs, the Fountain Theatre has won hundreds of awards for all areas of production, performance and design, and provides an essential voice for the citizens of Los Angeles. Dedicated to community, the Fountain produces outstanding theater that challenges thinking and shines an artistic light on the many under-represented voices and cultures within Los Angeles. Eric Garcetti joined with the Los Angeles City Council to commend the Fountain for "achieving a position of leadership in the Los Angeles theatre community... producing meaningful new plays of social and political importance that enrich the lives of the citizens of Los Angeles." Established in 2016, the Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble's mission is centered upon strengthening the voices of young artists. Utilizing theater-arts based curricula, EYTE provides creative learning opportunities for inner city youth that allow them to gain confidence, communication skills and self-awareness. EYTE seeks to create experiences that empower youth, developing theater as a powerful place for community building and social justice. Located in the heart of the entertainment industry, the Theatre Academy and Theatre Arts Department at Los Angeles City College, headed up by department chair Tony Maggio, has been offering conservatory training since 1929 with State of California Certificates and Advanced Certificates in Acting, Technical Theatre-Entertainment Technology and Costume Design with Associate of Arts degrees also available. A founding school in the creation of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, the LACC Theatre Academy has received numerous national honors and awards for its productions. The Hollywood Police Activities League serves low-income youth, particularly in Hollywood and its environs, by building positive relationships between law enforcement professionals and children in their community. Hollywood PAL believes that with police officers as their role models, youth develop meaningful values, and that by investing in the personal and social development of our youth, we are investing in the future of our community. Walking the Beat Hollywood kicks off on Monday, June 17 at the Fountain Theatre. Three culminating performances will take place on Friday, Aug. 9 at 8 p.m.; Saturday,Aug. 10 at 4 p.m.; and Saturday, Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. in the Caminito Theater, located on the campus of Los Angeles City College at 855 N Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90029. Parking is FREE in Structure 4 on Heliotrope at Monroe (between Santa Monica and Melrose). Admission to the performances is free and open to the public. For more information and to make a reservation, call (323) 663-1525 or visit www.FountainTheatre.com.
Photo courtesy of The Fountain Theatre