‘˜Act One’ Brings Students to Stage
Research has shown that students exposed to the arts contribute to student creativity, self-motivation, social connectivity and civic engagement. Yet less than 50 percent of Arizona public schools provide integrated arts education in the curriculum. This means half of Arizona’s school children are going without exposure to the arts in the classrooms and in fieldtrip settings.
Phoenix’s business owners and community leaders J. Russ and Linda “Mac” Perlich launched the Act One Foundation in 2011 to help change this statistic.
“Russ and I both benefited from the many visits to museums, concerts and dance performances arranged by the public schools we attended in Minnesota and Arizona. These experiences contributed to the level of education we received and to our lives today. We believe that arts, and especially the performing arts, are an important part of the process of instilling within the student the desire to learn, to develop their own questions and seek out the answers to those questions. By launching Act One Foundation, our goal is for all Arizona school children to have the same opportunity as we did, one yellow bus at a time,” says Mac Perlich.
Students from Mosaica Education arrive at the Herberger Theater.
Act One Foundation supports educational field trips to the visual and performing arts for Arizona's underserved schools. It provides resources to underserved public school children to engage and benefit from the same performing and visual arts learning opportunities the Perlichs experienced.
In its first year, more than 6,000 students in Maricopa County benefited from Act One. The second year, which kicked off in October, is on its way to serving more than 16,000 students from the Valley and Tucson.
“We will be exposing students to the arts, many whom have never stepped foot into a museum or theater. Whether it’s a performance at the Phoenix Symphony, Ballet Arizona or Valley Youth Theatre, these students’ lives will be impacted for the better,” says Teniqua Broughton, Act One Foundation executive director.
For more information, visit www.act1az.org.
Text by Dana McGuinness, Act One Foundation board member