Tri-Cities High School in Atlanta, Georgia, and Cincinnati Aiken New Tech Program at Aiken High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, will pilot the Educational Theatre Foundation's new Pathway initiative, which looks to use school theatre to build racial equity by pairing students in communities of color with industry professionals of color to perform works that encourage dialogue around racial equity.
The program was created to address a gap in availability of arts education for students of color following a National Endowment for the Arts study that showed they receive less than half the access of white students.
As part of the initiative, Tri-Cities High School will perform FELA! The Musical, and Aiken will perform Disney's Aladdin JR. Along with donated licensing fees from Music Theatre International, both productions will be funded with $10,000 grants from ETF.
"Participation in school theatre builds empathy and life skills such as communication and collaboration," says Allison Dolan, chief content officer of ETF’s parent organization, the Educational Theatre Association. "Pathway aims to break down barriers for youth in low-income communities of color to experience those benefits, because the evidence is clear: Students who experience theatre in school are more likely to succeed in life."
The program is inspired by late film and theatre producer Craig Zadan, who worked to break down racial barriers throughout his career. Pathway was initially developed through funds raised at a tribute event following Zadan's death in 2018. These pilot grants have been funded from the Eleanora C.U. Alms Trust, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee; Ohio Arts Council, ArtsWave, and Disney Live Entertainment. ETF is currently working to establish a permanent endowment that will fund five Pathway grants annually.
For more information, visit EducationalTheatreFoundation.org.