Press Pitch: Small Theatre Company Gives Big Camp Scholarships

I’m writing to see if you or a colleague might be interested in doing a story on the efforts arts organizations are making to fill the gap left by budget cuts to public arts education.

Americans for the Arts reports that 55% of secondary schools and 96% of elementary schools do not offer drama programs to their students.  While the DC metro area’s affluent suburbs do better at this than many areas, the imbalance is still keenly felt by the region’s lower-income schools.  Ironically, these schools where the students have the greatest need are often also the worst-equipped to help their students find opportunities outside the school.

In an effort to do its part, Traveling Players Ensemble, an educational theatre company, has already awarded $23,000 in scholarships for its upcoming summer camp, and is still seeking applicants for its most advanced programs (which could award up to $5,000 to a single camper to attend).  We are reaching out to local schools and forming partnerships with school counselors and teachers in an effort to find students who would benefit from our theatre training.

For some, the arts can be a pathway to greater opportunity.  Whereas many organizations attempt to do modest good to many children, we focus on creating profound change for a few.  Several former campers received over $14,000 each, and then received $60,000 to $240,000 in college scholarship awards.  These awards made it possible for those students to attend colleges that would otherwise have been unattainable.

Traveling Players Ensemble has received $16,000 in support of scholarships: a $10,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (the company’s second such award), $1,000 from Prince George’s County government, and $5,000 from an anonymous donor.  We are trying to meet the larger need and double our scholarships awards; our goal is to award $40,000 this year.

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, Emerging Scholars, Rising Hope Mission Church, the Washington SEED School, and Fairfax County REC-Pac camps.

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.

Jeanne E. Harrison
Producing Artistic Director
Traveling Players Ensemble
P.O. Box 1315
Great Falls, VA  22066