In 2015, the JumpStart Theatre program launched with three pilot schools in Cincinnati. The goal: building sustainable theatre programs in schools without them. Since that time, 15 schools in five states have joined the JumpStart program, with more than 800 student cast members and more than 200 student crew members participating.

THE EDUCATIONAL THEATRE ASSOCIATION is partnering with Music Theatre International (MTI) and iTheatrics to launch JumpStart Theatre, a pilot program designed to build sustainable theatre programs in middle schools that do not offer theatre education. The program will begin next fall in three Cincinnati-area schools: Finneytown Middle School and James N. Gamble Montessori School in Cincinnati and Holmes Middle School in Covington, Kentucky.

Based on a highly successful New York City program, JumpStart will provide three years of direct financial and logistical support that includes educator training, mentors, scripts, and study guides, as well as teacher stipends and modest budgets for sets and costumes. EdTA plans to expand the program regionally in 2016-17, with the goal of creating similar programs nationwide in the future. The program has received state and local financial support, with grants from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsWave, the Cincinnati area’s local arts agency. The three 2015-16 pilot schools will also include a research project that will measure the program’s social and academic impact on students and their community.

“The program will make a powerful impact on hundreds of students over the next three years, providing them with a more expansive education to teach life skills that can be applied in other subject areas, such as creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking,” said EdTA Executive Director Julie Cohen Theobald. “We are very excited to be able to provide these opportunities to the students in our community, and we hope to expand the program beyond the Cincinnati area in the coming years.”

This story appeared in the May 2015 print version of Dramatics. Learn about the print magazine and other Thespian benefits on the International Thespian Society website.

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