2010: The Year in Review

I haven’t quite made good on updating this blog more frequently. But I haven’t let two years pass again either, so this isn’t so bad.

The year 2010 brought a few changes for me. Rather than working on several consulting projects, one project has become nearly full time for me.  In February, I became involved in helping to develop an after-school theater program for the Consolidated School District of New Britain at Trinity-on-Main Performance Center in downtown New Britain. Within a short time, this project developed into New Britain Youth Theater. By March, I was not only incorporating NBYT, but had become Executive Producing Director.

With the support of the school district, fiscal sponsorship from Vision New Britain, Inc., and funding from the Greater New Britain Arts Alliance and the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, NBYT is now conducting programs in three New Britain elementary schools. A program for homeschool students is held weekly at Trinity-on-Main. Beginning in January, acting classes will be offered on Saturday mornings for ages 4 to 12. Summer programs—which began small in 2010—will also expand in 2011.

Productions have also begun at NBYT. Earlier this month, we produced A Children’s Christmas Carol with thirty children from New Britain and ten other Connecticut towns. NBYT’s spring production is going to be Babe, the Sheep-Pig, based on the book that also inspired the movie Babe. In its first nine months alone, NBYT has already served over three hundred kids!

Aside from New Britain Youth Theater, I’m also an approved consultant for the Peer Advisor Network (PAN) program of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. The Commission also invited me to serve on a grant review panel for arts project support grants. My work with the Commission is a relationship that I hope will continue to grow.

Here’s hoping that 2010 was as good to all of you, and wishing that 2011 will be a strong, successful year for the arts!

Back to School

Wow! Just wow! It’s been nearly two years since I’ve posted a new blog entry on this website.

I’d like to report that I’ve been on tour—maybe producing the complete works of William Shakespeare, or the complete works of Eugene O’Neill. Heck, even the complete works of Rodgers & Hammerstein. But even on tour I could have updated this blog, so that wouldn’t work. I could say that I’ve been in hiding or even witness protection, but that isn’t true either.

I have been working though. Throughout my entire theatrical career, I’ve been a fan of programs that bring theater to children. Eventually, I worked for an organization with a great program that involved children in classes and productions. Just over two years, ago, I began an association with Connecticut’s oldest operating children’s theater, where I was later named part-time Executive Director. Earlier this year, I left that theater to respond to a call to help bring after-school theater programs to children in New Britain, Connecticut. New Britain Youth Theater is the result of that response. Along the way, I’ve also lead theater programs for preschoolers, daycare and school kids, and summer campers. As a producer, actor, stage manager, and student of directing, writing and design, it seems I’ve learned enough over the past couple of decades to fill some young minds with creativity. Plus I love working with kids.

This week, I officially went back to school and began co-teaching a weekly theater enrichment program for homeschooled four to seven year-olds. We’re putting American fairy tales, fables and folklore on stage—plus learning what it means to be on stage and put a show together. (Next term, we’ll do worldwide stories, and after that we’ll travel through time. NBYT also has other programs for kids 8 to 18.) Next month, if funding comes through, I’ll be starting after-school programs for elementary and middle school kids in the New Britain public school district.

Here on this blog, I’ll be writing about the work I’m doing, and I’ll add a few links to some stories, programs and events. Here’s one that’s pretty important: next week is National Arts in Education Week. I’ve already written some about the importance of arts in education. Here’s what you can do now: if you’re a teacher, school administrator, or public employee, let me know what your district is doing in arts education. If you’re a parent or have kids around, ask what arts they have in school. Don’t let the arts disappear from our classrooms! Speak up and ask!

Until next time, I’ll be back in school.