Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog


MERRIMACK REP RECEIVES 4 LOCAL CULTURAL COUNCIL GRANTS


MERRIMACK REP RECEIVES 4 LOCAL CULTURAL COUNCIL GRANTS

 

The local cultural councils of Lowell, Lawrence, Westford and Dracut have awarded grants to Merrimack Repertory Theatre to send students from their respective communities to the theatre.  The combined support of these four grants totals over $7,500, which will help fund high school field trips to student matinee performances.  MRT’s Student Matinee Series/Partners in Education program provides opportunities for area students to experience live professional theatre for $8.50 per ticket, or free of charge for economically challenged schools.  Through study guides tied to the curriculum and Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) Standards, matinee performances in a professional setting, and post-performance discussions with the artists, the Student Matinee Series helps students explore and understand the issues and possibilities that MRT’s plays inspire.

 

Funds awarded from the Lowell Cultural Council will help fund a private student matinee performance of Eugene O’Neill’s classic A Moon for the Misbegotten for over 300 Lowell High School students in May.  Thanks in part to the generous support of the Lowell Cultural Council, students from Lowell will be able to attend this performance at no cost.  Also attending A Moon for the Misbegotten in May will be 50 students from Dracut High School.  Westford High School and Lawrence High School’s performances are still to be determined.  For many students, this will be their first exposure to live professional theatre.  

 

The Lowell Cultural Council, Lawrence Cultural Council, Dracut Cultural Council, and Westford Cultural Council are local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

 

MRT Student Matinee Series

Merrimack Repertory Theatre firmly believes in its mission to advance the cause of human understanding through the art of theatre.  In doing so, MRT plays a vital role as the only professional theatre organization in the region in enhancing the life and richness of our community by providing an affordable way for young people to experience this mission.  Taking a student to the theatre starts them on a path of lifelong appreciation for the arts, exposes them to positive role models, and provides them with a unique learning experience that integrates lessons in history, social studies, science, English, geography, music and math.  During the 2007-2008 season, over 1,600 area middle and high school students attended a student matinee performance at MRT.

 

In light of the vast disadvantage some of this region’s schools face, one of the greatest levelers of the playing field among students from all backgrounds is learning through arts experiences. According to a report from the Kennedy Center concerning arts and education: “James Catterall’s analysis of the Department of Education’s NELS:88 database of 25,000 students demonstrates that students with high levels of arts participation outperform ‘arts-poor’ students by virtually every measure. Since arts participation is highly correlated with socioeconomic status, which is the most significant predictor of academic performance, this comes as little surprise. The size and diversity of the NELS database, however, permitted Catterall to find statistical significance in comparisons of high and low arts participants in the lowest socioeconomic segments. This closer look showed that high arts participation makes a more significant difference to students from low-income backgrounds than for high-income students. Catterall also found clear evidence that sustained involvement in particular art forms—music and theater—are highly correlated with success in mathematics and reading.” (http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org)

 

All students attending a student matinee at Merrimack Repertory Theatre receive educational materials to create a context for the content and background of the play, including a post-performance discussion with the cast of the play, copies of the script, teaching guides and grade-appropriate study guides.  An interdisciplinary education exposes young minds to new concepts in formats that are fresh and invigorating, stimulating creativity and open-mindedness.

 

For more information on Merrimack Repertory Theatre or the Student Matinee Series, please call Dan Berube at 978.654.7595 or email Berube@MerrimackRep.org

  

For MRT show times, tickets, season information, directions, or to request a brochure, please visit www.MerrimackRep.org or call the Box Office at 978.654.4MRT (4678).

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