Act One: Providing Access to the Arts

Nonprofit enables young people to experience the arts through educational field trips.

It wasn’t that long ago when field trips to the performing arts and museums were a regular part of the school year. If you ask an adult to recall a field trip, they often remember the impact of that experience even years or decades later. But today, as budgets have become tighter and priorities have shifted, Arizona schools increasingly are crossing educational arts field trips off their “to do” list due to the cost of admission and the expense of busing students to the venue. This is especially true in Title 1 schools that serve a large percentage of low-income families.

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Students enjoy a performance at the Orpheum Theatre.

For the last five years, Arizona-based nonprofit Act One has worked with educators, schools and districts in Maricopa and Pima counties to bring students from Title 1 schools on educational arts field trips. Act One coordinates the field trips and covers the cost of admission as well as the busing expenses.

“We hear weekly from teachers and students about how their Act One field trip impacted the students’ education, inspired them to learn more, excited them about a world they never imagined and brought a shared experience to the students that provided a springboard for classroom lessons,” saya Geri Wright, executive director for Act One.

She notes that Act One will host more than 40 field trips in the 2016/2017 school year, bringing more than 31,000 students to see theater, ballet, symphony, dance and music performances as well as visual arts experiences. Since its founding in 2011, Act One has hosted more than 100,000 students on arts field trips.

The best testaments for the Act One Field Trip Program come when students exit the theater buzzing about the show and full of delight about what they saw. It comes when teachers share months later how it has impacted their students. And it comes when a thick package full of handwritten notes arrives at the Act One office.

A teacher from Longview Elementary School in Phoenix’s Osborn School District brought 27 2nd graders on a field trip to see “The Magic Books” at Phoenix Theatre. She says of the experience, “Every student benefited – these children are not given the opportunity to go to the theater, ever. This experience opened their eyes to a whole new world. My students ages 7 to 9, both male and female, loved every minute of their experience. Thank you!”

Transparent logo sidebar 2Another teacher from San Miguel High School in Tucson recalls her students’ field trip: “This event was truly inspiring for our students, and such a unique opportunity for all of us to experience the arts. Many of our students have never had the opportunity to see a Broadway show and were blown away by the experience of the entire day. The … performance challenged the ways in which our students experience culture in their lives and opened their minds to new ways to grapple with difficult social issues.”

Act One is a 501c3 that, through the generosity of donors, provides access to the arts through educational arts field trips for students from Title 1 schools and through the Act One Culture Pass program that provides free passes to the arts available for checkout at libraries.

Learn more about Act One HERE.

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