Tuesday, December 2, 2014

BACT Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has selected the Bay Area Children's Theatre as one of 919 organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant.
The NEA has recommended that BACT receive a grant of $10,000 to help develop and produce an original musical inspired by stories created by children with special needs.
“We are thrilled to have been honored with this NEA grant, which recognizes our commitment to creating new work and to representing the stories of all children on our stages,” said BACT Executive Director Nina Meehan.
Playwright and composer Min Kahng
BACT will work with playwright and composer Min Kahng to create the new musical.  Kahng most recently wrote and composed BACT’s award-winning musical adaptation of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. 

The creation process will begin with a series of workshops in partnership with schools and organizations that serve children with special needs. BACT will lead dramatic workshops with the children to help them find and express their creative voice and storytelling skills.  Kahng will use selected stories from the children as inspiration for a musical, which will be performed by professional actors during BACT’s 2016-2017 season. 

“It has been a dream of mine to offer sensory-friendly performances to children with special needs,” Meehan said.  “This NEA grant helps us take that dream even further, by representing the voices of children with special needs on our stages.  We will be working hard in the months ahead to secure the additional funding required to bring this exciting project to fruition.”

Announcing the NEA grants, NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “I’m pleased to be able to share the news of our support through Art Works, including the award to the Bay Area Children’s Theatre. The arts foster value, connection, creativity and innovation for the American people, and these recommended grants demonstrate those attributes and affirm that the arts are part of our everyday lives.” 

Art Works grants support the creation of art, public engagement with art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancement of the livability of communities through the arts.  The NEA received 1,474 eligible applications under the Art Works category, requesting more than $75 million in funding. Of those applications, 919 are recommended for grants, for a total of $26.6 million.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Becca's Notes: Learning through Live Theatre

The cast of James and the Giant Peach
During a particularly lively number at James and the Giant Peach, I took my son’s hand to move it in time with the music.  “Mommy,” he objected, “I’m watching!” 
Eli is four. I was thrilled that he was so engaged in the performance! If, at the age of four, he can devote such attention to the action onstage, I chuckled to myself, we were in good shape for the college lectures he would have down the road.
Going to the theatre is not only great entertainment for our kids, it is a learning experience on many different levels.  At the Bay Area Children’s Theatre, it’s an opportunity to see a favorite story come alive onstage or to be introduced to a story that a child will enjoy reading later on.  It’s the chance to share and discuss an artistic experience with family members, and the discipline of watching, wondering, absorbing, analyzing, and then responding—as life often demands.
As BACT’s education director, I focus on the experiences children have as participants in making theatre, but I’m equally delighted when I see youngsters become involved with live theatre as audience members.  Both artistic experiences are enriching, and both are invaluable preparation for the future.
See you at the theatre!

Becca Posamentier is a founding company member of Bay Area Children's Theatre and currently serves as the Director of BACT's Education Program.