Cindy Says: Support from the top…there’s nothing like it!

Cindy Says: Support from the top…there’s nothing like it!

By Cindy Ripley on February 12, 2020

I am still basking in the wave of exhilaration from our 2020 Junior Theater Festivals in Atlanta and Sacramento. Over 9500 musical theatre lovers of all ages from East, West, and across the oceans raved about adjudications, workshops, and performances of 174 groups and numerous Broadway stars. Needless to say, all performers dream of playing to audiences like this: engaged, mesmerized, informed about the theatrical process, and enthusiastic about every moment of the performance. The astonishing part is, on average, this audience was between the ages of 11-15. When talking to their teachers, the key component to providing this experience for kids has been obtaining administrative support. Whether in a school, community theater, or private studio setting, support and understanding from the top is the magic lamp for all things.

How does one garner administrative support to activate your arts programs?

To help answer this question, I went to a seasoned and respected expert, Tim Sinnenberg. Tim is principal of Charlton Heights Elementary School in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District in upstate New York. His most impressive credential in my book is that he directs the fourth and fifth grade drama club musical production each year!

Tim tells us while that some administrators are fully onboard, others need more information so they can know how kids reap the benefits of the program. Here are some "Tim Tips" to gain support of your admin!

Involve the building's principal in the show process from the beginning. Open communication between production team and administration gives insight into the thought process that goes into selecting the best show for the group.

Work together with administration on the program's budgetary needs. Make a wish list that will enhance your program. Many sound and lighting purchases can encourage departments to collaborate and make expensive tech more achievable.

Team with the Parent Teacher Association. Not only can these magic organizations cover huge costs, (show kit, costumes, set, props and program) but they can also find volunteers to help with students, the parent check - out process, and even plan dinner for cast and crew.

Grow your program with staff participation. Everyone wants to be part of a wonderful experience for kids. All you need to do is ask. As you know, there are a myriad of jobs to which staff, community, and alumni can contribute - co-directing, producing, tech, costumes, choreography and crew. Often, they become part of your team for life!

Highlight the benefits of arts participation with administrators. We all know the benefits of the arts in the educational process: improved academics, confidence, and positive behavior: the arts, for art's sake, leading to a well-rounded citizen. Take time to share these benefits in programs, parent communication, and with fellow staff members.

Invite the district, administrative team, and the Board of Education members to performances. There is nothing that replaces an in the moment experience.

Continue to progress one step at a time, and build a team that will make your program the best in your administrator's eyes. A secret weapon? Most certainly! CR

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