Following the inaugural Philly Youth Theatre Festival, the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) spoke with students, teachers, and theater companies and learned that “instead of a theater competition with prize money, what all three groups wanted most was an initiative where Philadelphia’s public schools – students and teachers – and the city’s professional theatre community could learn from one another.”
So OACCE decided to host that discussion, during the School District’s professional development day for Arts and Enrichment teachers on August 27th at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). They also invited The Resource Exchange as a guest to participate:
“The vision for the discussion is to draw parallels between theater companies that began as grassroots efforts, and school theater departments, and create a setting where teachers can learn how to lead their theater classes/departments like a small theater producer. I thought you would be a great addition to the conversation, around reuse and resources, and speaking to your work with small theater companies.
We are excited to have diverse perspective represented in the guests:
Katherine Fritz (Pennsylvania Theatre Institute)
Kaliek Hayes (Childhoodslost, 2018 Theatre Festival winner)
Karyn Gerred (Executive Director, The Resource Exchange)
This will be an open and honest conversation around low-budget and high-quality productions. Teachers will be talking about the challenges the are facing in providing quality experiences for their students (i.e. licensing, music, set design, engagement). We appreciate you bringing your knowledge and experience around starting, building, and supporting theatre with limited resources.”
At the event, teachers spoke about the challenges they were facing in providing quality experiences for their students within their in-school theatre activities, and also discussed that 71 % of students surveyed did not have access to theatre/drama activities outside of school. Questions regarding cost saving strategies were also a large part of the ideas and information shared, including:
- What is an example of a cost-saving move that you’ve learned in your experience that could also be used by teachers?
- Costumes, sets, props—all needed for successful productions. What are affordable resources in Philadelphia that teachers can use?
- What are some tips for teachers to get students involved in theater?
- What are opportunities or resources for teachers that you can recommend for them to connect to and learn from the theater (and theater education) community?
The re was so glad to have the opportunity to share our mission and hear directly from the Philadelphia’s public schools education staff and theatre community about their efforts starting, building, and supporting theatre with limited resources. Thanks to OACCE for including us!