The Issue: Lack of Funding for Arts Programs
In 2011, the Florida legislature cut $542 of funding for each student in the Florida public school system—a total of $1.3 billion dollars from schools that already receive less funding than the national average, according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel. In the face of these budget cuts, many schools cut music, theater, and art programs, despite the fact that these programs can dramatically improve students' confidence, test scores, and creative and critical-thinking skills.
The Campaign: Funding Theater Trips for Underserved Kids
If 30 people donate $9 to this Grassroots campaign, then Orlando Repertory Theatre (REP) can sponsor a theater field trip for 30 underserved students as part of its No Empty Bus program. This program ensures that underfunded schools in Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole Counties have equal access to the theater by providing heavily subsidized or free transportation and tickets to REP productions. By attending productions designed with young audiences in mind, these students will be able to see their favorite literature come to life, experience an immersive art form, and forge creative thinking skills. The REP provides schools with a teacher-resource guide full of educational activities to continue the theater experience in the classroom. Each additional $270 raised will provide another field trip.
The No Empty Bus program allowed 7,100 students to attend a live theater production during the 2011–2012 season.
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Orlando Repertory Theatre
In 1926, it was called the Orlando Little Theatre. Since then it has undergone four name changes, two mergers, and five expansions. Today, the Orlando Repertory Theatre (REP) enriches the lives of families with theater performances based on classic and contemporary children’s literature and outreach events designed to get young audiences involved in the arts.
Every year, approximately 40,000 children attend the REP's productions, which change seasonally and will include The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in the 2012–2013 season. Children with hearing impairments have access to assisted hearing devices, and one performance of each production includes ASL interpreters. A product of the REP's goal to target families, the Sideways Series showcases plays with challenging themes to encourage children to think outside the box and ask serious questions. The REP also sponsors a number of youth and community-outreach events, including a writing workshop, summer camps with student-led performances, a theater-tech academy, and theatrical-training workshops for underserved youth.