Grant awarded to Mill Mountain Theatre, Young Audiences Series

Mill Mountain Theatre (MMT) is continuing in 2018 its program of linking the performing arts with literacy and reading skills for children through four productions in its Young Audiences Series. The program was first started in 2016 to produce plays in conjunction with their literary sources, encouraging students to read about what they had seen in the shows. Follow-up surveys with parents following the shows revealed that they are largely reaching households where books are plentiful and reading is recognized as an important component. Therefore, in 2018 MMT is adding additional activities led by MMT Conservatory educators in classrooms where school administrators identify students who comes from households without advantages of books and parental encouragement to read. The productions planned for 2018 include:   – Adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and of Mother Goose Tales  A Year with Frog and Toad  Shrek

This means that MMT’s reading initiative will have focused impact on 500 students who need incentive and skills to read effectively in addition to the 7,200 who see Young Audiences shows and are offered free books.When distributing books, MMT’s staff asks for email addresses to send surveys to parents and teachers who monitor the program’s effectiveness. From the information gathered by these surveys, 94.4 percent of students who saw MMT shows demonstrated an increased level of interest and 82 percent read the books given to them. These responses have documented the program’s intended impacts and pointed to areas to strengthen in 2018, especially to serve children from households where there are few books and reading is not actively encouraged. Funds from this grant will be used to underwrite the cost of books to be distributed to children attending the shows and to pay for creation and printing of activities guides and workbooks for distribution to the students.