In 1997, a longitudinal study was initiated to determine the impact of the arts on the lives of the participants. In this study, more than 25,000 students were evaluated over a course of ten years through high school. Those students with consistent participation in theatre arts consistently showed improved academic performance and significant increases in standardized test scores. In a 2013 article in the Washington Post by Lisa Phillips, the top skills children learn from the arts was discussed. They included the following:
Creativity – lean to approach tasks from different perspectives and to “think outside the box”
Confidence – build the confidence to perform in front of large audiences
Problem Solving – develop skills in reasoning and understanding
Perseverance – learning skills and techniques through practice; developing new skills
Focus – maintaining a balance between listening and contributing; improve concentration
Collaboration – practice working together for a common goal
Dedication – associate hard work and dedication with a sense of accomplishment
Accountability – learn that their actions affect other people; Gain a sense of responsibility
Receiving Constructive Feedback – learn that critique is a valuable experience and contributes to the success of the final piece
An arts educator with over 16 years’ experience, Lisa’s comments were driven by a concern over an obsession with science, math, technology and engineering in our school systems at the risk of losing art education and the skills that come from it. I think she makes a valid point. Our community theaters are more than just an entertainment venue; they offer a tremendous benefit for personal growth. Perhaps you know of someone who has or may benefit from active participation in the theatre. Reach out and get involved!
Community Partners Coordinator
Academy at Civic Theatre (A.C.T.) works with students to develop and strengthen listening, communication, and creative problem-solving skills. These are core stage skills for any performer, but they are so much more. That’s a nice thing to say, but what do we mean by that?
These core skills are vital to just about anything students will pursue in life. Learning to listen, to truly be engaged and focused on where you are, is invaluable. There are more and more distractions in the world that splinter our focus, and theatre education is a fun and effective way to train ourselves to block those distractions out when necessary.
The communication skills we work on also carry well beyond the stage. Simple but vital skills like eye contact and articulation are at the heart of our A.C.T. programs. There’s a big difference talking to a young person who stares at their feet the whole time as opposed to looking you in the eye when they speak. Eye contact speaks to a confidence level that we work to develop. And with electronic devices doing more and more of the talking for us, exercising these communication muscles becomes more and more important.
And what do we mean by “creative problem-solving” skills? When we work with our students at A.C.T., we make sure they know that acting is not about being perfect. Mistakes happen in almost every single live performance they will ever see. They will probably not notice 95% of those mistakes because actors are trained to not focus on them, but rather to keep moving forward with the story. While we always work with students on ways to minimize mistakes, the more important work we do with them is training them on how to deal with a mistake when it does happen. When something goes wrong, do you shut down and give up, or do you stay calm and allow your brain to figure out how to make it right? We provide a safe and supportive environment for kids to learn how to positively navigate the mistakes that will inevitably pop up.
Theatre Arts education helps equip students with the tools they will need in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue. We are not focused on developing the next generation of actors and singers and dancers. Rather, we are focused on helping develop the next generation of well-rounded, civic-minded young people who are prepared to overcome whatever obstacles lie ahead for them. We just get to do it in a really, really fun way!
Education & Outreach Administrator