Project Success and the Arts
Professional Theater Experiences
At the core of our arts programming is a legacy of bringing students to world-class theater in the Twin Cities. Through generous donations of tickets our 40+ theater partners help provide Project Success students and their families access to professional performances at no cost to them. More than 94% of students found going to see plays with Project Success to be valuable. These events have been wonderful bonding experiences for young people and their family members as well as powerful audience-building tools for the theater partners. Through Project Success, students and their families attend diverse theater performances together, enriching their shared family experiences and increasing opportunities for interactions, which can lead to more positive family relationships and greater home support for youth— shown to have a positive impact on student achievement.
Students involved in the arts statistically have better academic outcomes, higher career goals and are more civically engaged than those who aren’t. The National Endowment for the Arts reports that arts engagement can help narrow the achievement gap, contributing to graduation rates, college completion rates, and setting students up for greater employment and volunteer opportunities.
Unfortunately, access to arts experiences for low-income students has declined by about 20% over the past decade, meaning students most likely to benefit from arts-rich educational experiences are less likely to have access to them. By offering opportunities to all students in our partner schools free of cost, we create opportunities for students to explore theater productions that they may not have otherwise had an opportunity to see.
Project Success approaches the selection of our theater events thoughtfully and often meticulously, consciously matching the content of shows to the curriculum students are learning through our in-class workshops. As facilitators discuss themes like decision making and overcoming obstacles with their students, they often use theater to help illustrate and foster discussion in class. We put an emphasis on diversity and the cultural relevance of the production, and ensure that students see themselves, and the things going on in their lives, reflected on stage.
Middle School Musicals
Putting on a very professional and successful theater performance contributes to young peoples’ skills and self-esteem. Teachers report students raising their grade point averages and becoming more motivated after being part of a Project Success musical, and students who participate in a Project Success-produced musical show a 6% average increase in GPA (20% after 3 years).
Project Success coordinates the entire performance with the support of the participating school. Students work in front of and behind the scenes, directly with professional directors and musicians and quality sound, sets and lighting. Each year Project Success thoughtfully tailors our musical season for each of our partner middle schools. With strong input from the artistic team and school administrators, we aim to provide opportunities for students to collaborate artistically and gain key skills and self-confidence.
Participating in a Project Success production catapults students forward on their journey towards finding their own voices. With the skills and self-confidence that they’ve learned through rehearsal and performing, students will enter high school more prepared to dream and plan for their futures.
To connect the themes of the show with their lives, Project Success staff do weekly workshops with students at rehearsal focusing on ideas like support and perseverance. The musical curriculum gives students the opportunity to reflect on the show, the rehearsal process, and the ways in which the stories they portray on stage can be meaningful in their lives outside of rehearsal and after the show has finished. Each week focuses on a theme from the show with prompts and questions to guide reflection.
Equity and Access
As with all Project Success programming, we work diligently to break down barriers to access for students in our Arts programs through:
- Free Programs: Our theater experiences are offered at no cost to our students and families, thanks to generous in-kind donations of tickets from our partners.
- Transportation: Providing access to transportation to and from our programming for those who need it, thanks to an incredible force of volunteer drivers.
- Staffing: For many families, seeing theater is a brand new experience. We staff each of our theater performances to ensure families are personally welcomed before and after the show.
- Childcare: Allowing all families to attend evening and weekend performances by providing childcare to those who are too young to attend a particular show.
- Individualized Curriculum: Building curriculum that is tailored to each individual student, mindful of their abilities, spoken languages and more.
We utilize the power of theater and the arts to inspire, build community, act as a springboard for discussion and encourage students to tell their own stories.
We accomplish this through:
- Professional theater experiences for students and families, offered at no cost to them thanks to donated tickets from our 40+ generous theater partners, local theater companies and arts organizations that allow PS to continue creating innovative opportunities for students
- School field trips to theater
- Middle school musicals
Are you a Project Success student interested in requesting theater tickets or discovering other arts opportunities?
Project Success and Theater
- Nearly 98% of high school students and 94% of middle school students found going to see plays with Project Success to be “valuable.”
- In our most recent survey, two-thirds of high school students said they attended the play with their parents or guardians, with nearly half of middle school students reporting the same.
- More than 92% of students who attended a play said they would consider attending another play, given the chance.