Arts Midwest supports youth programming during the COVID-19 pandemic
The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest presents Shakespeare in American Communities: Juvenile Justice. Delaware Shakespeare is one of ten nonprofit organizations across the nation selected to participate to engage youths within the juvenile justice system with the works of Shakespeare through theater education programs.
Delaware Shakespeare has been awarded a $12,500 grant to support youth education programs through the COVID-19 pandemic either in-person or virtually between August 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021. Since the program’s inception in 2003, Shakespeare in American Communities has introduced more than three million middle and high school students to the power of live theater and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare. The program has supported more than 13,100 performances and 51,000 related educational activities at more than 11,000 schools and juvenile justice facilities in 4,500 communities in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. One hundred and twenty-seven theater companies and organizations across the United States have taken part in the program, presenting 34 of Shakespeare’s 37 total plays.
“Many of Shakespeare’s plays were written during a plague. Major works like Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest were created in a time of extreme difficulty and adversity.” said Christy Dickinson, Arts Midwest’s senior program director. “The goal of Shakespeare in American Communities has always been to help Shakespeare’s works come alive for students, allowing young people to develop social and emotional skills important to their success. We’re proud that this work continues despite the challenges of this year, thanks to our theater companies who are pivoting their programming to help students connect with Shakespeare, teaching artists, and actors in new ways.”
“Due to COVID-19, the teaching environment in Delaware’s juvenile justice facilities have changed since we wrote this grant application in January,” said David Stradley, producing artistic director of Delaware Shakespeare. “We look forward to working with our partners in the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services to find creative and powerful ways our teaching artists can best serve students. Though the methods may change, the goal remains the same: allowing these students to find themselves in new ways through Shakespeare’s words and characters.”
Arts Midwest’s previous work with partners in criminal justice facilities and the NEA’s research into the impact of arts programming for youth and adults in the criminal justice system have both demonstrated great potential for the program to help with some of the underlying causes of vexing problems such as re-entry from prison to community and reducing recidivism.
About Arts Midwest: Arts Midwest believes that creativity has the power to inspire and unite humanity. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest grows, gathers, and invests in creative organizations and communities throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 30 years. For more information, visit artsmidwest.org.
About the National Endowment for the Arts: Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit arts.gov.
About Delaware Shakespeare: Now in its eighteenth season, Delaware Shakespeare creates year-round professional theatre and educational programs for residents and friends of the State of Delaware. At Del Shakes, people from all walks of life celebrate and explore their shared humanity through the lens of Shakespearean work.