September 17, 2016
The Educational Theatre Association has established a new grant program to enhance theatre programs at underserved schools. The New Troupe Charter Grants program is dedicated to bringing honor and recognition to theatre students in financially-challenged communities. The initial gift to fund the program has been made by Tams-Witmark Music Library. The program’s launch was announced today at the EdTA National Conference.
The New Troupe Charter Grants program will award grants to qualifying schools to fund the charter of an International Thespian Society troupe and induction for up to ten students. Qualifications include a school-wide Title I designation and the production of at least one show per year for the two school years preceding the year of the grant application. Students inducted into the honor society are eligible for leadership opportunities, college scholarships, and invitations to perform at state and national events.
Tams-Witmark has been a leader in theatrical licensing for over ninety years, and represents some of the most celebrated titles in musical theatre. Thousands of schools, community theatres, and professional organizations present Tams-Witmark musicals each year.
Tams-Witmark President Sargent Aborn said “We are delighted that the Educational Theatre Association has given us the opportunity to help enrich the lives of theatre students in underserved communities through this innovative program. As firm believers in the value of theatre arts education for all students, we want to support a program that gives these students the chance to be recognized for their achievements in theatre arts.”
EdTA Executive Director Julie Cohen Theobald applauded Tams-Witmark and their commitment to theatre education, saying “Only twenty-eight percent of schools in the poorest neighborhoods offer theatre, and we want to use these grants to recognize those students and encourage more school theatre programs. Theatre provides a home where students can feel accepted, valued, and part of something larger than themselves. We are deeply grateful to Tams-Witmark for pioneering this effort with us.”
“We know from research and experience that students involved in the arts have better grades and are more likely to attend college," Theobald added, citing research conducted by Professor James Catterall of the Centers for Research and Creativity. Catterall's analysis, published in his 2009 book Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art, found that high-poverty students with sustained involvement in theatre show substantial improvement in reading proficiency, gains in self-concept and motivation, and higher levels of empathy for others.
Catterall is currently conducting research for EdTA's JumpStart Theatre initiative, a pilot program created to bring musical theatre into middle schools that previously lacked performing arts programs.
More detailed information about the New Troupe Charter Grants program and application process is available here.