Project Arts "Avenue Q" Educational Teen Theater Production

1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish:
We are putting on a production of “Avenue Q School Edition.” This project combines educational programming, social justice workshops, puppetry workshops, a conflict resolution program, as well as the opportunity for teens from different backgrounds to learn about diversity and LGBT issues. We have engaged in intensive outreach to teens without access to theater programs in their schools as well as to minority students. We teach in a student-led process that allows the students to create their characters, learn to be more confident, and become better performers. Our program is free for all participants.

2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $800 is your imaginary budget:
One of our main goals is to hire theater professionals and educators to work with our students. This grant will allow us to pay them a fair rate. We have a scholarship program that gives money to our students for their future pursuit in the theater arts.

3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal):
My name is Rich Wexler. I created an organization called Sherman Arts that created community and supported local musicians and artists. We hosted a monthly music show with local teens. This inspired me to work in the arts in an educational setting. I chose to do this through theater because it is a passion of mine. We produced “Rent School Edition” in 2011. That project was such an extreme success in terms of the educational and social justice aspects. I believe that, for the teens who participated, their the experiences were life-changing.

4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community?:
One of our missions is to expose theater to people who cannot afford it.
We provide inexpensive tickets at $10 and $15 that make this possible. We also offer free or discounted tickets. Because we partner with other organizations, we create community within those organizations. We choose sponsors that deal with the issues of Avenue Q. Therefore we are working with LGBT organizations, puppet theaters, and women‘s music organizations to fulfill these needs. We allow those organizations to present a five-minute overview of who they are and what they do as well as raise awareness about these organizations.