Give ‘em the ol’ Razzle Dazzle

Need a song-and-dance cabaret act for your next event? Look no further than Ovation!, the Patel Conservatory’s traveling troupe of professionally trained entertainers for hire.

ovation

The Straz Center launched its first ever professional student cabaret ensemble, Ovation!, in a 2015 pilot program. Here, they perform in our TECO Theater.

For a few years, a delightful idea from the Patel Conservatory’s theater department rolled around in The Straz’s creative hopper: what if … is it possible … could we have a group of students trained and prepared to gig like any other working performers? And, could they collaborate with our food and beverage team to provide entertainment for public and private clients?

A few stars needed to align with timing and leadership – and, eventually, they did. Last year, the Patel Conservatory hand-picked 16 students who they invited to try out a pilot program to see if the idea could grow legs. Ovation! was born.

The 2016-2017 Ovation! ensemble

The 2016-2017 Ovation! ensemble prepares for its working season in the Straz Center Rehearsal Hall.

Under the vocal direction of Vice President of Education Suzanne Livesay and with choreography from theater faculty member Scott Daniel, Ovation! eventually congealed into a hybrid show choir and cabaret act able to perform medleys for public and private events. The group cut its teeth in-house, performing for the President’s Luncheon, the Patel Conservatory end-of-year Spotlight show and an Evening of Dance.

Eventually, Ovation! made its way into the world, entertaining at the Neiman Marcus holiday event and in Whole Foods during a fundraiser for the Patel Conservatory. Their big break came when Redstone Investments booked the group as a surprise for co-founder Jonathan Levy during their holiday gathering. The party organizers requested the Ovation! crew pretend to be random carolers – but instead of singing traditional songs, the medleys would be parodies of the company set to the tunes of holiday classics starting with “Jonathan the Levy,” a rendition of “Frosty the Snowman.”

“It was fantastic,” says Patel Conservatory theater instructor Audrey Siegler. “Redstone died laughing. Everyone at the party was hysterical. Ovation! was a hit, and we knew we had something that worked.”

The gigs throughout 2015 defined and refined the shape of Ovation!, with the directors deciding to create customizable gigs depending on the client’s needs. “We have 10-20 minute medleys ready to go around Broadway themes, love songs, holidays. But there can be other themes, or a longer duration, and combinations of performers depending on what the client wants. We’re training talented young people to sing and dance. They’re prepared to go anywhere and perform to professional standards,” Siegler continues.

With the ground under its feet, Ovation! has deepened its training this season with Popular Dance program director Kelly King, a former Rockette, taking the helm as choreographer with Livesay. Auditions happened in August and will again in January. The Ovation! company rehearses weekly to keep the material and their performance chops sharp.

ovations-performance-number

Ovation! strikes a tableau from a show number. The company is for hire. All proceeds from Ovation! gigs go directly to Patel Conservatory scholarship funds.

“We’re still shaping and working out the logistics,” says Siegler. “We’re looking for more gigs this season, and anyone interested in hiring Ovation! – please contact us and we can work out a show for your event. All the booking fees go directly to the Patel Conservatory scholarship program, so the more they perform, the more opportunities become available for others.”

If you want to book Ovation! or get more information, please email audrey.siegler@strazcenter.org. If you are a Straz Center donor and would like to book Ovation! or get more information, please contact bill.rolon@strazcenter.org.

Scholarship Story: Abigale Pfingsten, from Grade School to Graduate

You don’t have to have a lot of money to study the performing arts. If you have a child or child in your life who has dreams, talent or just plain curiosity, we have scholarship opportunities to help them get the classes they need. The next Patel Conservatory scholarship deadline is Dec. 3, 2016.

img_7483

Abigale performing in concert with the Patel Conservatory Vocal Arts program.

This year, one of our Patel Conservatory scholarship students headed to Carnegie-Mellon University on a tuition scholarship to study international politics—and the performing arts, thanks to her years of growing up with support and training from The Straz.

At nine years old, Abigale Pfingsten won a scholarship to study piano with John Hernandez at the Patel Conservatory. Little did she know that initial taste of her own innate talent would lead to almost a decade of immersion in all aspects of the performing arts, developing a passion that would set the course of her life. “John Hernandez is an amazing, fantastic teacher who took me to new levels of what I can do with piano. I loved learning from him so much,” she says. “Then, that first summer I tried out for Seussical, got a part, and loved it, too. From that point forward, I expanded my horizons, studying ballet, musical theater, continuing my piano training. I found my passion in the performing arts, and I never would have been able to make these discoveries without the scholarships graciously provided by people who are lovers of the arts.”

dsc_0290_edited-1

Abigale performing in the Patel Conservatory production of Seussical the Musical, 2011.

In her college essay, Abigale stated:

… Sooner or later in my artistic career, I am going to establish a non-profit conservatory for the performing arts. I would like it to be a place where people with the eagerness to experience the arts can go to regardless of their financial situation. I want my conservatory to be a home for children and adults just as the Patel Conservatory/Straz Center has been for me all these years.

So, the cycle of giving and learning pays it forward in tangible ways for uncountable lives. “My life would have turned out very differently without performing arts classes,” Abigale says. “Without the generosity of donors to provide scholarships, I wouldn’t know my passion.”

 

 

dsc_0330

Abigale (in blue) performing in the Patel Conservatory production of The Little Shop of Horrors, 2013.

We want to make sure that all young people in the Tampa Bay area have the opportunity to study and grow in Patel Conservatory classes, just like Abigale. You never know how an experience in the arts may affect your life. If you want to take performing arts classes, we have scholarship opportunities available.

The next scholarship deadline is December 3, 2016. Details and applications are available on our website. We recommend that everyone submit the need-based application so we know there is a need; from there, the scholarship committee reviews applications and offers awards. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact patelconservatory@strazcenter.org.

The Straz Center Salutes National Endowment for the Arts

“The Arts Endowment’s mission was clear – to spread this artistic prosperity throughout the land, from the dense neighborhoods of our largest cities to the vast rural spaces, so that every citizen might enjoy America’s great cultural legacy.”
–from National Endowment for the Arts: A History 1965-2008

During the desultory years of the Great Depression, 10,000 of the 15 million out of work Americans were artists. Through New Deal programs such as the Federal Arts Project and the Federal Writers’ Project, these artists recorded, documented and produced the bulk of American cultural achievement and historical record of the time. While this social program provided a historical precedent for federal support of artists, the nation’s leaders began to see America’s need to make a commitment to the bountiful creative expression of such a diverse and talented society without a socio-economic agenda. The time had come for America to put its might behind its artists, the very citizens who created the nation’s cultural heritage.

nea_sepialbj1965signing

On Sept. 29, 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities, the legislation creating NEH and NEA, into law. (Photo: http://www.neh.gov)

The National Endowment for the Arts, then, emerged as this commitment to the exaltation of the spirit produced by American artists. In his remarks at the signing of the arts and humanities bill in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson noted:

Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the inner vision which guides us as a Nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish. … It is in the neighborhoods of each community that a nation’s art is born. In countless American towns there live thousands of obscure and unknown talents. … What this bill really does is to bring active support to this great national asset, to make fresher the winds of art in this great land of ours.

On Sept. 29, 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) celebrated its 50th anniversary, and while the NEA more or less weathered the culture wars headed by North Carolina senator Jesse Helms in the ‘80s and house speaker Newt Gingrich in the ‘90s, the NEA’s unfortunate position as an easy target in political morality rhetoric continues to be source of consternation for the administrators charged with upholding the mission set forth by LBJ.

nea-first-grant_abt

The first NEA grant was made in December 1965 to the American Ballet Theatre, shown here performing Swan Lake. (Photo: Martha Swope)

Despite these public challenges which often nab media attention, the NEA continues to secure financial resources for the arts mostly in unacknowledged efforts. The NEA represents five decades of public commitment to the importance of investing in American artistic contributions creating the cultural capital of our nation.

Now heading into its 51st year, the National Endowment for the Arts serves as both repository and springboard for American arts, with some of the nation’s most renowned and gifted artistic geniuses and organizations participating in its development, implementation and execution. The first year of grants included Paul Taylor, Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theatre, Actors Theater of Louisville, American Choral Society and to the New York City Opera to expand a training program for young singers and aspiring conductors. Over the years, the NEA supported American giants like the Joffrey Ballet and Dizzy Gillespie as well as hometown folk artists like cowboy poet Wallace McRae and programs like the Rural Arts Initiative and Arts Education Partnership. In 2016, the organization announced its new focus on contemporary authors for the NEA Big Read program and was nominated for an Emmy for its digital story series United States of Arts.

img_3460

When Black Violin performed at the Straz Center in 2015, they also did master classes and other outreach in the Tampa community. Pictured here is their stop at St. Peter Claver School.

We are pleased to acknowledge the NEA’s support in helping the Straz Center launch our Cultural Intersections program, a multi-disciplinary series of artists who use traditional, authentic artistic disciplines to transcend cultural boundaries. The NEA makes our work in this endeavor possible, opening our stages last season to such phenomenal artists as Black Violin, Parsons Dance Company, Celtic Nights, tabla master Zakir Hussein and others. This program includes an outreach arm which also sends our Cultural Intersections artists to the community in master classes, lectures and school visits with subsidized tickets for underserved K-12 students.

As the NEA says, a great nation deserves great art, and we salute the NEA for its hard work funding all manner of artistic contributions, including some of ours.

Print

Leotard, Check. Make-Up Kit, Check. Valve Oil? Check.

The Patel Conservatory Gears Up for Another School Year

There’s no such thing as summer break for the faculty and staff of the Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory. We spend the summer months steeped in a camps, classes, workshops, performances and pre-professional productions like this year’s impressive mounting of an almost full-scale Les Miserables. So, we have just enough time to clean the mirrors and sweep the floors before we welcome our next season’s spate of students when the official school year starts Monday, Aug. 29.

While other school years start with a backpack full of composition notebooks, the Conservatory school year starts with small duffel bags stuffed with leotards, hairpins, dance shoes, make-up kits, music, reeds, valve oil and water bottles. No matter what class you’re taking, everybody needs a reusable water bottle. Our students also need plenty of traditional school supplies: paper for notes, pencils and three-ring binders.

In case any of our incoming students forgot what they’ll need for dance, theater or music class, we asked the tireless faculty to let us publish the must-haves for your first day of school.

So, scan these handy checklists to make sure you’re prepared for another exciting year of friends, rehearsals, creative challenges and unforgettable moments.

 

DANCE

  • Dance bag
  • Appropriate dance attire*
  • Appropriate dance footwear*
  • Personal hairbrush and hair spray (boys and girls)
  • Personal bobby pins, hair net (to match your hair color), hair ties (girls)
  • Performance make-up (refer to handbook for make-up suggestions)
  • Water bottle

*See your specific class information sheet

dance shoe collage

Did you sign up for ballet? Or tap? How about jazz? Maybe Flamenco? There’s a shoe for that.

dance - bobby pins

You can never have too many bobby pins. Ever.

dance - makeup

Our handbook has lots of helpful hair and make-up suggestions to get you show-ready.

 

THEATER AND MUSICAL THEATER

  • Performer bag (small duffel or backpack)
  • Pencil w/eraser
  • Folder or binder for sheet music & script storage
  • Highlighter
  • Scrap paper for notes
  • School appropriate movement/gym clothes
  • Jazz shoes or sneakers
  • Water bottle (healthy snack for classes/rehearsals longer than 2 hrs.)
  • Recording device (phone or tablet)
  • Personal hairbrush/comb & hair ties
  • Make-up kit for productions
theater_highlight 2_crawford long

A highlighter will make marking your script much easier.

theater - movement clothes

Make sure you are dressed ready to move.

theater - make up

Bring your make-up kit for dress rehearsals and performances.

 

MUSIC

  • Black, 3 ring binder (preferably with a matte finish that does not reflect light on stage)
  • Pencils (many!)
  • Water bottle, especially for singers
  • Extra paper for notes
  • Extra reeds for woodwind players
  • Valve oil for brass players
  • Rosin for string players
  • New set of strings
  • Scale and arpeggio sheets
  • Method books
  • Make sure your concert attire is clean and ready to go
Music - binder_crawford long

A black, 3-ring binder keeps all of your sheet music neat and tear-free.

music - Strings, rosin, pencil

Extra strings, rosin and a pencil are very important to have in your string instrument case.

music - method books, scale and arpeggio sheet, practice sheet

The one day you don’t have your book is the one day your teacher will ask you to take it out and use it in class.

For life-long learners in the adult classes, you can find similar information on the Straz Center website.

If the notion of arpeggio sheets, jazz shoes or two hour rehearsals get you as excited as it does us, know that it’s never too late to sign up for Patel Conservatory classes for yourself or your family and friends. View classes and register here.

back cover

 

 

 

Villain, Dragon, The Voice

Former Patel Conservatory student Shalyah Fearing Dreams It and Does It . . . Congratulations on Her Outstanding Performance on The Voice

The Straz Center believes in the vital power of the performing arts to nurture the human spirit. Anyone should be able to cultivate her or his creative gifts and curiosities starting at a young age, regardless of financial situation. So, we have a lot of scholarship money for performing arts training for young people, an open channel of support used by Shalyah and many others to get the classes, teachers and performing opportunities they needed to pursue their dreams. If you are a young person reading this blog or you are a parent of a young person with a desire to pursue acting, dancing or music, please apply for a Patel Conservatory scholarship. We will support you.

maxresdefault

In Disney’s The Little Mermaid—while Ariel captivates and musical crab Sebastian gets the best song—the uncontested scene-stealing force in the story remains the detestable sea witch Ursula. It’s a plum villain role for any musical theater actor: a big role for a big voice.

It comes as no surprise that when the Patel Conservatory produced a student version of the show, 12-year-old vocal powerhouse Shalyah Fearing landed the part. Shalyah is, in reality, humble, funny, down-to-earth and not at all like the jealous, conniving undersea queen she nailed throughout the run of the show. However, Shalyah, like Ursula, possesses a magical voice. But with Shalyah, it’s for keeps.

IMG_0882

Shalyah as Ursula in Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR, 2013. (Photo: Soho Images)

In Shalyah’s last performance in a Patel Conservatory production, she played Dragon in Shrek the Musical, another role requiring a tremendous voice to fill the wings of a tremendous creature.

IMG_9622

Shalyah as Dragon in Shrek The Musical, 2015. (Photo: Soho Images)

Then, it was off to audition for The Voice when she turned 15 and finally met the age requirement.

In a matter of seconds, Christina Aguilera nabbed Shalyah in the blind auditions: America met the young singer for the first time. Since then, we followed Shalyah’s exciting journey on the show to her last performance, a knockout rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come.” She proved this Fearing is fearless as she climbed to the Top 9 before being eliminated in last night’s semi-final results show. A few weeks ago, she returned to the Patel Conservatory for the “Broadway or Bust” class to talk about her experience on The Voice.  We loved having her back during a short break from her hectic schedule.

“It was so cool to see her again after all this success,” says cohort Abby Pfingsten, who starred opposite of Shalyah in A Little Princess and also trains at the Patel Conservatory on scholarship. “The show hasn’t changed her. She’s still funny, still down-to-earth, still one of us. We all hope she wins.”

In fact, we all did. Shalyah has one giant fan club at The Straz, from the admin offices to the rehearsal studios at the conservatory. We champion her and know, regardless of last night’s outcome, Shaylah slays. We have seen her vision, her discipline, her level of self-sacrifice and commitment to her performing arts development—Shalyah studied with many excellent teachers in this area from other schools—and we are thrilled that she chose to use our scholarship support to take classes, hone her craft and create a performing arts family here.

Shalyah

Shalyah with some former class and cast mates at her recent visit to the Patel Conservatory.

The bigger picture, for us, is about making sure the thousands of young people in and around the Tampa Bay area who know they have performing arts gifts or are curious about what it would be like to take a voice class, a TV acting workshop or attend summer dance camp have financial support to explore the performing arts.

“I would love for everyone to know,” says Vice President of Education and ongoing theater instructor and director Suzanne Livesay, “that they don’t have to let cost be a factor when it comes to performing arts training and education. Sometimes people let the idea that they can’t afford it get in the way of exploring the arts or developing skills they think or know they have. Many people don’t realize that the Straz Center has financial support available to help them try something new or pursue their dreams. Any student who has the desire to learn is eligible.”

The Straz Center awards over $275,000 annually in need and merit-based scholarships. “Students can receive scholarships for almost every one of our classes and camps,” Livesay says. “Much of the funding is based on need, but we also have funds available to students who attend our outreach schools and merit scholarships which we award to especially talented students.”

Dream it Do It collage

In 2013, the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center chose Shalyah among several other students as representatives for our “Dream It, Do It” campaign. We are so proud of Shalyah for dreaming it and then doing it! (Photos: Rob/Harris, Inc.)

We will continue to cheer for Shalyah as her career moves on and do what we can for young people in the area who also would like to study and perform at the Patel Conservatory. Details and applications are available on our website. We recommend that everyone submit the need-based application so we know there is a need; from there, the scholarship committee reviews applications and offers awards. The deadline for next school year is July 16th.  If you have questions or would like more information, please contact patelconservatory@strazcenter.org.

But What About All That Blockbuster Broadway Money?

Raising funds for a not-for-profit as large and ambitious as the Straz Center creates some interesting challenges for the people who run our development department. In this exclusive profile in honor of Give Day Tampa Bay and The Straz spring membership drive, Caught in the Act introduces you to some of the delightful people who build and maintain our vital donor community. Here, they wax philosophical on the number one challenge and why we need a donor community anyway.

Want to be a part of The Straz? We want you.

The biggest challenge:

“Believe it or not, most people don’t understand we’re a not-for-profit,” says Director of Special Events Sharon McDonald, who heads up Best of Tampa Bay, the food and drink fundraising festival on the Riverwalk each year. “My son’s girlfriend asked me if we did Best of Tampa Bay for charity, and I said, ‘yes—us!’ She paused for a moment then said, ‘The Straz is a charity?’ Oh, yes. When people think charity, they tend to think of shelters or cancer, these types of things. Not performing arts. But, the performing arts aren’t sustainable by just coming to see a show. With the big Broadway blockbusters, 70 cents of every dollar goes back to the show. People think we make all this money when we have The Lion King or Wicked, but we don’t. The majority of profits go to the show. We have to raise money for everything—education, outreach, our programming, everything.”

Sharon serves dual roles as Straz Center Director of Special Events and rabid Bolts fan.

Sharon (pictured with her husband, Jimmy) serves dual roles as Straz Center Director of Special Events and rabid Bolts fan.

“The most difficult challenge is having people see we’re a nonprofit. People don’t know what it really takes to bring high-quality arts and artists here. Not only that, but donors are vital to keeping our stages lit. Lights on, water running … that’s not the sexiest thing to give money for, but where would we be without it?” says Kim Bateman, manager of member relations and development systems. “Donors keep arts in this community.”

Kim Bateman

Here’s a pre-event selfie of Kim Bateman, glammed up to help donors have a spectacular time at the Straz Center Broadway Ball 2015.

“If we have grants and tickets, why donate? That’s a great question,” says staff grant writer Maggie DiPietra. “Well, we’ve got to raise about seven million dollars a year to break even. Seven million dollars to break even. We are very good, conscientious stewards of what we’re given, but people don’t realize we’re a nonprofit. The Straz Center started as a dream of the community; donors keep the dream alive. That’s what donors bring to the table. We simply can’t do it without them.”

Maggie Dipietra

Maggie is a favorite Tampa musician. Here she plays at Skipper’s Smokehouse with her husband Danny (on bucket) to open for Paul Thorn. Photo by Bridge Burke.

 Philanthropy and The Straz. Why do it?

“Because it makes you feel good. I really believe that. The world can’t survive without those who are generous and can give back. All the work we do at The Straz brings joy to others and is—authentically—an uplifting experience,” says Vice President of Development Julie Britton. “For me, I also think people don’t understand our work creates memories that last forever. What we teach here gives you discipline and skill sets that last your whole lifetime. I took free music appreciation classes at the museum in Toledo growing up. That was possible because of philanthropy, and that experience shaped who I am as a person. Having experiences in the performing arts makes for richer human beings as people learn to appreciate intangible things like beauty and goodness. Performances and classes, spending time at The Straz, creates a break in a frenzied world, adding a rich and rewarding dimension to life that is unique to the performing arts. Philanthropy for The Straz funnels right into our ability to create these experiences.”

Julie Britton with her husband Charlie at Best of Tampa Bay 2016.

Julie Britton with her husband Charlie at Best of Tampa Bay 2016.

“In the big picture, the Straz Center feeds the economic success and growth of all Tampa Bay,” says Bill Rolon, who helps cultivate our relationships with area businesses as our corporate relations manager. “It’s a ripple effect starting here for students taking theater classes, summer camps, dance intensives, any of the arts education programs. When people support arts training, most of the time they don’t even think about the fact that those kids are learning focus, team leading, collaboration, discipline and perseverance. You can’t put on a show without going through the long, hard, challenging process of getting it up and running, and, if you want to do it, you don’t quit. It’s all those life skills that the performing arts teach. I’m a prime example. I was an artist for 15 years, and that part of my life gave me every single skill that makes me valuable to a company today. Our students have the same training for life whether they go into a career in the performing arts or not, but the end result is that they have a work ethic to go until the job is done. And an understanding of how much they can achieve and what can be achieved when people work hard to a common goal. We don’t just teach performing arts, but character. Those students will become future employees, future business owners, future leaders. So the value of The Straz goes on and on.”

Bill performs in a musical revue as part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Bill performs in a musical revue as part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

Nicole Stickeler, our bi-lingual development coordinator, explains:

“Las artes escénicas traen cultura y proveen una  vía para que los estudiantes y adultos  puedan expresar y entretener su lado artístico,” ella dice. “Al asistir a un evento las personas crean recuerdos que pueden conducir a un vínculo emocional con un lugar como el Straz. A través del apoyo de la comunidad, podemos ofrecer obras de alta calidad, educación gratuita de las artes, extensión a la comunidad, y mucho más. El apoyo del público es una parte integral de nuestro éxito y es necesario para que todos los clientes, estudiantes y adultos por igual, puedan soñar, llegar a, y celebrar las artes.”

In other words:

“The performing arts bring culture and provide an outlet  for students and adults to express and entertain their artistic side,” she says. “Patrons come here to attend an event and they create memories which can lead to an emotional attachment to a place like The Straz. Through the support of the community, we are able to provide high quality performances, tuition-free arts education, community outreach, and so much more. Their support is an integral part of our success and is needed so that all patrons, students and adults alike, can dream, reach, and celebrate the arts.”

Nicole, a trained singer, performs sometimes with Opera Tampa. Here she appears as a gypsy from La Traviata.

Nicole, a trained singer, performs sometimes with Opera Tampa. Here she appears as a gypsy from La Traviata.

If you’re interested in making a difference for the lives of the next generation and having the unique experience of being a part of our donor community, please visit us.

It Takes a Village to Raise an Audience

SONY DSC

Early childhood research reveals the critical developmental need for youngsters to participate in the arts, and many performing arts schools ensure there will be a future generation of outstanding American artists. What we sometimes forget to talk about is who, if anyone, will be in the theater seats when this next generation takes the stage. In other words, the best way to secure an audience for the performing arts is to make sure we’re raising one.

The advent of movies and television radically changed the role of live performance in American culture. The rapid developments in screen technology that paved the way for inexpensive, easy and amateur entertainment set the performing arts on a rapid parallel  evolution competing for audiences in the digital age. In the past 40 years, critics and social theorists have questioned whether or not the performing arts will be able to sustain patronage as the generations become more acculturated to screen entertainment at home and less likely to spend the money on tickets to a live show.

Most patrons of the arts can pinpoint a specific childhood influence that instilled their love of the arts — whether it was a grandparent who listened to opera,  a mother who loved musicals or a school trip to see a regional production of Annie or Romeo and Juliet. Because theater activates a multi-sensory imaginative experience, children make wonderful audiences who may have a formative moment with the performing arts that will last a lifetime.

SONY DSC

As trends in public education continue to edge out creative arts in favor of STEM benchmarks, the need for community support to bring young people to the performing arts grows. Most shows, for kids and adults, offer specially discounted student tickets, which is a wonderful practice although many theaters suspect students do not know they have the option for more affordable seats. Schools, home school programs and  organizations benefit from group discounts. In general, at The Straz, group rates apply to any gathering of 10 or more people, so younger adult audiences who may be ineligible for student discounts may also have access to less expensive group rates if they can come with friends. The Straz Center’s field trip performance series is a special season of weekday performances for children throughout the school year. These performances usually take place at 10:30 a.m. in Ferguson Hall and are a perfect way to begin to build the foundation for a vivid imagination — and a lifelong patron of the performing arts.

The best way to instill a love for enjoying live performing arts is to start audiences young, raising them to appreciate the thrill and transformative experience one can find only in  the theater. Today’s patron of Wee Folk, Kid Time or field trip performances may be tomorrow’s patron of new works from the next generation of Tony®- winning playwrights.