As we approach the holiday season, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to give back to this wonderful community of Austin. I am grateful to work for an organization that is able to bring in the highest quality entertainment from around the world, and be able to offer thousands of free tickets to non-profits that work with low income youth. By doing this we are not only exposing future generation to the arts, we are also opening them up to a world of possibilities. When I get letters from kids that say, “I think that show was the greatest thing I have ever seen,” I know that we are having an impact.
I am really proud of our program Literacy to Life, where we take 4th graders’ stories and adapt them for the stage with professional actors. The program costs around $2,500, and we offer it to a low income school each semester for free.
I met with the teacher at Galindo Elementary who participated in Literacy to Life this past semester. She told me that in the week following the performance she had her students take a writing benchmark test. The students who refused to write at the beginning of the semester filled the entire page and their writing had a clear beginning, middle, and end. I realized that this program does more than make students feel good, it helps to change their perception of themselves as writers. The teacher told me, “If I had to choose between low ability and low motivation, I will always take low ability because through motivation anything can be learned. This program gave my students motivation and a confidence they didn’t have before.”
I hear a lot of stories from teachers, counselors, and social workers about where these students come from and the lack of resources they have. It means a lot to me that I work with an organiztion that has access to artists and shares it with schools and kids who wouldn’t be able afford it. I know that exposing children to the arts isn’t going to erase poverty, hunger, and the dropout rate. But at least the Paramount Theatre is doing its part to make the lives of Austin youth a little better.
Happy holidays 🙂