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Theatre education: Making it happen

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I have spent the weekend with 15 driven, crazy, garrulous, impassioned, over-scheduled people who have one thing and one thing only in common: the belief that all children benefit from theatre education.

We work from noon on Friday till 10:30 p.m., 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. We work in committees, we work as a large group, we go to drinks at 10:30 and inevitably talk shop (usually social justice issues in art accessibility or exciting ideas/projects about community impact). We do the heavy-duty work in prep for our annual educators' conference (in NYC this year) and our annual student conference (attended by over 700 students from across NY state). We explore targeted research and design new advocacy tools and toys, we put plans in motion for education and outreach, we prepare to use new tech tools. We review interactions with state ed., note progress, and brainstorm how to support schools in forgotten or ignored districts... and so much more.

It is mind numbing.

It is also, however, inspiring, personally growth-full, and effective (however slowly). We have, over the years, compelled New York State to require certification for school theatre teachers and drama/movement credits for students. We have helped create/change assessments and develop resources and curriculum. We forge new ways to support performance art programming across the state fiscally, curricularly, advocationally, and, for lack of a better word, productionally.

Please take a moment this week to see a performance that moves you to laughter or love or understanding or tears, or to watch a child become invested in the performance version of something otherwise challenging, or a community discovering and celebrating its voice. Then thank an arts educator.

I close with a link to a PSA... cheers to you, performance educators everywhere. Thanks for your dedication and courage.

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