What began as bringing kids to matinee performances at Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center turned into a program dedicated to children engaging in art, called Arts 4 Youth.
“School-day matinées for students are quite common in performing arts centers,” says Kate Dorr, arts education coordinator for PAEC. “So it was a natural fit. On a larger scale, engaging students in the performing arts is good for their intellectual and emotional development, as well as the larger community’s development.”
Schools and individual students can sign themselves up. According to Dorr, PAEC’s Performing Arts Foundation, a 501(c)(3), supports ticket price discounts and bus grants for schools that qualify, based on their free and reduced lunch percentage.
For the past year Dorr has been involved in the program, designing guides and programs for schools. “My background is in museum education and classroom teaching. I am a lifelong lover of—and child participant in—the performing arts.” Witnessing children’s excitement when they get to see a play is “truly heartwarming,” says Dorr. She adds that research reveals how participation in the arts encourages success in other areas of education. “Everyone deserves access to these benefits.
This year alone PAEC is offering nine matinee performances for schools. The shows include New Chinese Acrobats, Toying with Science, Mariachi Sol de México and more. Dorr notes that she’s created study guides for each show for teachers to use before and after they bring their students, as well as lesson plans and guides on theater arts and PAEC in general. These study guides and lesson plans can be found online at fwpaec.org.
The matinees offer an educational experience different from what happens in the classroom, says Dorr, and exposes them to a new art form. She hopes students who attend these matinees will have an emotional connection to what they see on stage and will have their intellectual curiosity stimulated. From such experiences, she says, students gain the knowledge that there is a wide variety of ways to express yourself.
JORDAN MARIE MCCAW
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Federal Way Performing Arts Center Arts 4 Youth