Project Broadway Empowers Underprivileged Kids in NYC Through Theater
From participating in choral, acting, and dance classes at school, to watching Broadway productions in Manhattan, the arts play a substantial role in students’ lives. With an arts education, kids are able to develop critical and creative thinking skills in addition to learning how to work as a team. However, exposure to such privileges is not universal among kids in New York City.
Many schools across New York do not have sufficient funds to teach theater or other forms of art. Budgets earmarked for academic and athletic purposes are often prioritized, therefore leaving budgets for the arts as the first to be reduced or eliminated. In New York City, there are a plethora of arts programs and classes offered to kids and teens, but they are usually expensive and unaffordable for many.
Project Broadway is a nonprofit organization that was created to address the lack of affordable access to the theater arts for many deserving students. The organization is dedicated to fostering participation in enriching educational art experiences for students who may not otherwise have access to an education in the arts. Project Broadway also offers scholarships for children to participate in intensive theater training programs and workshops that focus on self-confidence and exploration of the theater arts. Through partnership with organizations and schools including Hunts Points Alliance for Children, Harlem Grown, Murrow High School, St. Hope Academy, and Gilda’s Club, Project Broadway has offered theater arts programs at no cost to over 200 children from at-risk backgrounds, low socio-economic means, and/or those who have survived personal trauma or loss. Utilizing a workshop format, Project Broadway engages participants in theater games, dance and musical instruction, and question and answer sessions with Broadway professionals.
In cooperation with a dedicated group of high school and college aged student ambassadors who have strong connections with the arts and a board of parents and teachers, the team at Project Broadway uses their platform to bring the arts to all communities. Throughout the year, the student ambassadors participate in fundraisers and produce cabarets to support the cause. For example, in 2018, Project Broadway hosted a cabaret at the Laurie Beechman Theater in April in addition to a cabaret staged at the renowned Theater 54 Below in July. Some of the performers included Andrew Feldman, from Dear Evan Hansen and Michaela Diamond, from The Cher Show on Broadway.
Project Broadway does not only have lasting effects for kids in the program, but also for the student ambassadors, who meet monthly to discuss new ideas and upcoming projects. Grant Albright, Co-President of the Student Ambassador team, described his experience saying, “Working as an ambassador for Project Broadway has made me appreciate theater as an art form to an extent that I didn't before. Being able to see all the time, dedication, and money that goes into putting on a show has shown me how important it is for theater to be accessible to anyone and everyone who wants to do it. Performing is an incredible way to build confidence and creativity, and through Project Broadway, we've been able to assist with a creative outlet kids who otherwise would never get to. Project Broadway has immersed me in a community of dedicated and incredibly talented people all dedicated to storytelling, and I will be forever grateful.”