O68 When did the Arts in Education Program start?
RP The Arts in Education program started back in 2004 when then Executive Director Allison Stockel had the vision to introduce students to the arts. Jodi Simon Stewart, the current (and first) Arts in Education Director, started running the program in 2013 and it has grown tremendously in that time. In 2022, when Jared Shahid and Ashley Paltauf took over as Managing Directors, they decided to spotlight the program with their ambitious 20 For 20 Campaign to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the program and raise $200,000 to offer our programming free of charge to all schools to celebrate this milestone.
O68 What are the benefits of
RP Through a full roster of one hour, curriculum-related shows that we present both in-person and virtually, the Ridgefield Playhouse introduces tens of thousands of students to the arts each school year. We partner with teachers to augment and complement what they are doing in the classroom, and bring many subjects that they are studying in school to life in the areas of literacy, STEAM, history, and culture. The impact of a live performance on a young person can be life changing.
O68 About how many students have participated in these programs?
RP We will be reaching over 60 towns across CT and NY with our programming this school year. 20,000 students and teachers will attend our live shows at the Ridgefield Playhouse and then upwards of 50,000 more will watch our livestream and virtual options from their classrooms. In the 20 years that the program has been in existence, tens of thousands of students from all across the region have participated in our program!!
O68 What is the process for a school
RP As part of our 20 For 20 campaign to reach 20,000 students and teachers this school year for free, we launched a simple online application. The response was profound. We were inundated with requests and have been trying to accommodate as many as we can. Virtual and livestream options have been added as well – at the request of educators – so we can reach even more students with our free programming this school year. Teachers can go to the Arts in Education page on our website to get more information about our season: https://ridgefieldplayhouse.org/about/arts-in-education/.
O68 Where are you in the goal of $200,000 to reach 20,000 students?
RP We have surpassed our 20 For 20 goal both financially and in participation, which is incredibly exciting. It feels like our entire extended community rallied around this campaign. We launched in August on Bernie Williams Day, which raised $23,000 out of the gates. From there, the combination of pre-existing funders of the program, the Leir Foundation, individual donors, and an outpouring of support at our Fall Gala featuring Itzhak Perlman, yielded over $200,000. In total, we’ll reach more than 70,000 students both in person and virtually. We could not have achieved this ambitious goal without our community’s support. We greatly appreciate all who contributed to this campaign’s success. The 20 For 20 Campaign has really informed the future of the program. It’s become clear that the demand is exponentially bigger than we realized and because of that, our goal is to keep this program free in perpetuity. So that’s our current objective. We invite any and all to get involved and help seed this program for the future!