Press Pitch: Poverty Penalty in Arts Education

Subject: Poverty Penalty in Arts Education


I’m writing to see if you or a colleague might be interested in doing a column (or if a reporter would be interested in writing a feature story) dealing with the poverty penalty that low-income students pay when it comes to arts education.  As you know, schools are cutting back on arts education, but students from affluent families can still participate in after-school and summer programs paid for by their parents.  But students from struggling families are denied these opportunities.

A hook for this could be looking at Traveling Players Ensemble, which has received a $10,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to enable up to 10 students in Loudoun County from grades 3-12 from low- and moderate-income families to participate in a summer theater camp. 

This is the second time Traveling Players Ensemble has received this grant.  Last time we received it, in 2016, we contacted you and you were interested, although we couldn’t make a story work out at that time. 

While an individual scholarship is not a great deal of money, it can fund a transformative experience for students whose parents can’t afford to send them to a theater camp.  It also illustrates the types of programs that could have great benefit for children from poor families if they were given a chance to attend.  Our arts scholarships are the most generous in the region, without annual or lifetime max.  We have invested over $19,500 in individual students, who have received four times that amount in college scholarship awards.   

In addition to offering scholarships to its own campers, Traveling Players donates many of its performances to other summer programs for under-served communities, including Camp Moss Hollow, Young Scholars, Rising Hope Mission Church, the Washington SEED School, and Fairfax County REC-Pac camps.

Here is the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation news release on several grants that include the Traveling Players.


Traveling Players website:

A little information on Traveling Players.


Traveling Players Ensemble was founded in 2003 with the mission to enhance self-expression, self-reliance, problem-solving skills and heighten appreciation of challenges and beauty by bringing great theatre into the great outdoors.  Combining specialties in education, arts, and environment, TPE’s camp was featured in The Washington Post as a “little known gem for the budding actor,” and a summer camp that “meaningfully combats ‘nature-deficit disorder,’” as well as being distinguished by the National Endowment for the Arts as one of 25 model Summer Schools in the Arts.  We have been featured twice on WAMU’s Metro Connection (National Public Radio) and as a Washington Post Weekend Pick.  Our students have received many honors, as individuals and as ensembles, including significant artistic scholarships to college.  Now entering our 15th year, our program has grown from a summer camp of 18 students to a year-round curriculum engaging up to 700 students annually.  Founded on faith in the imagination, wit, and honesty of teenagers, Traveling Players’ educational programs focus on classical dramatic traditions: Moliere, Shakespeare, Commedia dell’Arte, and ancient mythology.


If you’re not interested in this, could you pass it on to someone who might be?  Thanks very much.