Arts groups team up to provide grants to schools

Arts groups team up to provide grants to schools

The Disney Theatrical Group and the Overture Center for the Arts are teaming up to provide grants to help students at four Madison schools experience the arts.

The grants provide the schools, including Mendota Elementary School in Madison, the materials they need to put on and learn how to conduct a play.

They provide scripts, music, instructional material and two paid teaching artists, an opportunity the students would not otherwise get to take a story and bring it to life. At Mendota, the students chose to perform “The Lion King.”

“I think it raises the profile of our school. We do have high poverty here and all the challenges that brings and all that means,” teacher Tia Tanzer said. “I think it highlights our school in a different way, and it highlights our strengths instead of the perceived deficit.”

And the benefits for the kids go beyond what’s scripted.

“I think the arts, particularly performing arts, are such a great hook for a lot of kids,” teacher Kathy Chamberlain said. “I know with my own kids, one child in particular, it is really what kept her engaged in school.”

Arts groups team up to provide grants to schools

While the smiles are the most noticeable part of the play, there is also a lot of learning happening.

“I think play is how they learn best… how to solve problems that they are facing, so this is chance for them to play, be physically active, to work on memorization, to work on English language arts skills, to work on zoology, biology because this a play about animals,” Tanzer said.

All of the work will culminate with a performance from each school at the Overture Center in May.

“To be able to be on stage at the Overture Center with our kids, just touches your heart,” Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain said the program is taking learning to another level.

“It just opens up possibilities that kids didn’t know existed, and it’s right here at school,” she said.