Originally published in the January/February 2018 issue of Teaching Theatre.
IN A SMALL WEST VIRGINIA TOWN in 1929, Fairmont State College professor Paul Opp, his associate Ernest Bavely, and East Fairmont High School teacher Harry Leeper met to discuss their idea of an honor society for high school theatre students. By 1989, one idea had led to another, namely the Educational Theatre Association, founded to oversee the rapidly growing International Thespian Society and organization for theatre educators.
Now, 88 years after the first Thespian troupe was chartered, EdTA officially launches a philanthropic arm: the Educational Theatre Foundation. The simple, yet monumental idea driving this initiative: to bring quality theatre education to every child. Thanks to the abundant support of its board members and growing momentum of its programming, ETF is already well-poised to make this idea a reality.
The foundation focuses on three key areas: building sustainable musical theatre programs in schools without them; improving school theatre programs through competitive and need-based grants; and nurturing the next generation of theatre educators and artists through individual student grants.