Three Area Middle Schools Awarded Fully Funded Three-Year Jumpstart Theatre Program

Three Area Middle Schools Awarded Fully Funded Three-Year Jumpstart Theatre Program After a two-month selection process, STAGES St. Louis and the STAGES Performing Arts Academy have named the three area middle schools they will partner with for the regional launch of the JumpStart Theatre program. JumpStart Theatre is a three-year program that will equip faculty and administrators with the skills and resources to produce their school's first musical theatre production.

Margaret Buerkle Middle School in the Mehlville School District, Cross Keys Middle School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District and Coolidge Junior High School in the Granite City, IL Community Unit School District #9 were selected from 15 middle school applicants to receive the three-year grant sponsored by the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), home of the International Thespian Society, and the Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF) beginning in the 2018-19 school year. STAGES Performing Arts Academy is in the process of hiring a teaching artist dedicated solely to mentoring schools throughout the entire three-year program, with the goal of building a sustainable, long-term musical theatre curriculum.

The selection process included a formal written application, site visits to the schools and interviews with administrators and the faculty who would be spearheading the program for their school. "The judging committee was incredibly impressed with the overall pool of applicants and left the interview process with an even greater understanding of the profound need for theatre arts programming in our middle schools. We were truly inspired and energized by each school's desire to do whatever it takes to create a successful program and by the commitment of non-theatre faculty to provide students with an experience they wouldn't otherwise have," remarked Tali Allen, Director of Education and Outreach for STAGES Performing Arts Academy. "We're very much looking forward to this launch and the opportunity to expand the JumpStart Theatre program in 2019-20 with three additional middle schools."

"All of the finalists beautifully demonstrated their strong desire to support the arts in their schools, and it is truly an honor to be a part of helping Buerkle, Cross Keys and Coolidge make arts education in their schools a reality," said Jack Lane, Executive Producer of STAGES St. Louis and Educational Theatre Foundation Board Trustee.

The JumpStart Theatre Program equips non-theatre teachers with the skills and resources to produce their school's first musical through a proven combination of hands-on mentoring and boot-camp style training. Because of their success in producing Broadway-quality productions over its 32-year history, and its commitment to performing arts education through the STAGES Performing Arts Academy, STAGES St. Louis was chosen as one of two theatre companies in the country to spearhead the initiative in their cities, offering mentorship, training and guidance to the selected schools. Applications for the three-year JumpStart Theatre program beginning in the 2019-20 school year will open in January 2019.

Questions regarding the JumpStart Theatre program and application process may be addressed to
Tali Allen, STAGES Performing Arts Academy Director of Education & Outreach, at

About STAGES St. Louis
STAGES St. Louis is the region's foremost not-for-profit company committed to preserving and advancing the art form of Musical Theatre through excellence in performance and education. In 2018, STAGES celebrates 32 years of producing Broadway-quality theatre, presenting 140 performances from June through October to nearly 50,000 patrons. The critically-acclaimed 2017 season broke all previous box office records. STAGES supports the artists of tomorrow through the STAGES Performing Arts Academy's education and outreach programs including the JumpStart Theatre program as well as apprenticeships and internships.

About The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA)
The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) is an international association with approximately 125,000 active members. EdTA's mission is shaping lives through theatre education: honoring student achievement in theatre; supporting teachers by providing professional development, resources, and recognition; and influencing public opinion that theatre education is essential and builds life skills. EdTA is the home of the International Thespian Society, an honorary organization established at more than 4,700 schools that has inducted more than 2.3 million theatre students since its founding in 1929. EdTA also produces the International Thespian Festival and publishes Dramatics magazine for high school theatre students, and Teaching Theatre, a journal for theatre education professionals. For more information, visit

About the Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF)
ETF provides essential financial support to enhance excellence in theatre education and to expand access to school theatre programs for every child, putting them on a more positive life path. ETF is focused on three areas: JumpStart Theatre-to create sustainable musical theatre programs where there previously were none; need-based grants to schools-to provide teaching and performance resources and equipment in under-resourced schools; and, merit and need-based grants to individuals-to nurture the next generation of theatre teachers and artists.

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