Turn-around effort is on Target

East Boston’s Curtis Guild Elementary School is one of eight of the district’s ‘turnaround’ school that will benefit from a grant from the Target Corporation to fund an artist residency and ticket access program with Citi Performing Arts Center. The goal of the program is to improve school success, engage families and strengthen community by providing access to Boston’s rich offerings of music, dance, visual arts, theater and cultural events.

The Boston Public Schools Arts Department in partnership with Citi Performing Arts Center will give nearly 1,000 students at the Curtis Guild and the seven other selected schools greater exposure to Boston’s theater district.

“Our goal in the Boston Public Schools is to offer an arts-rich experience to every child, and we continue to work with our partners to expand high quality in- and out-of-school programming to deepen and enhance the arts experience for our students,” said BPS Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson. “This grant from Target allows Boston Public Schools and Citi Performing Arts Center to build on an existing partnership forged during 2009’s SpectrumBoston program and to leverage the city’s considerable cultural resources to give more students access to deep, enriching arts experiences.”

This month second graders from Curtis Guild will participate in five-day artist residencies with Citi Performing Arts Center teaching artists Nick Bazo and Magalie Neff. Using folktales from Africa and/or Latin America as their guide, students will explore storytelling through puppetry and performance. The residency culminates in a showcase put on by the students for their peers at school. The Wayne Martin Puppets will visit each school to perform followed by an inquiry and discussion session. Two hundred students participating in the residency as well as those from other turnaround schools will attend the Tuesday, March 16 evening performance at the Opera House.

In the fall, Dr. Johnson identified the Curtis Guild as a BPS turnaround school. The East Boston elementary school is required to undergo a rapid, targeted intervention in order to accelerate student achievement. The new program includes in-school residencies by Citi Performing Arts Center’s teaching artists, free tickets and a transportation stipend to attend one of three local theatre productions, and a “Meet the Performers” visit during which a group of local artists will perform for the entire school.

“This program provides meaningful arts experiences that tie to in-school curriculum,” said Ruth Mercado-Zizzo, Director of Education at Citi Performing Arts Center. “There is a strong desire for performing arts programs by both children and teachers in the schools and this partnership allows youth to experience art and to express themselves creatively. Because of overwhelming interest, we have already increased the number of schools we are working with and have started a waiting list.”

The grant from Target is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to strengthen families and communities throughout the country. Since opening its doors, Target has given 5 percent of its income to organizations that support education, the arts, social services and volunteerism. Today that equals more than $3 million every week.

“At Target, our local grants are making a difference in the communities we serve,” said Laysha Ward, Target’s Community Relations President. “We’re proud to partner with Boston Public Schools as part of our ongoing commitment to give back to the communities where our guests and team members live and work.”

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