After working at the Paramount for over a year, I have come to learn it really is a special place. Yes, there is the history, the stories, and wonderful programming we offer. However, when we bring in a group of kids to see a play who are coming to the theatre for the first time…something magical happens.
To know what I am talking about, you would have to come visit the theatre during one of our school shows, and listen to the children as they enter. You will hear the collective “Ooohs,” and “Ahhhs,” as they walk in. One teacher wrote about this experience: “It is so important for my students to experience life outside of poverty. Having my students come to your beautiful theatre for free helps provide those experiences. It helps expand their world. Thank you for providing this for them.”
Through our Education and Outreach programs, we aren’t only able to give away free tickets to bring children to our theatre, but we are also able to make the children feel like they are a part of this historic building. This includes giving students the chance to perform on our stage. This past summer, twenty low income high school students were able to perform a play they had written for family and friends at the Paramount Theatre. Right before the performance, one of the teenagers said, “I simply can’t believe I am about to perform on this stage. I can’t believe it. This is the coolest thing I have ever done.”
The children who come to our theatre are our future audience, and exposing them to the arts can leave a lasting impression that will make them lifetime theatre goers and arts appreciators. The 94 year old Paramount theatre is an important part of the fabric of the Austin community, and making this a place where children feel welcome and can create and appreciate art is an investment in Austin’s artistic future.