The Benefits of Arts in Education and CYT@school

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CYT strongly supports the inclusion of arts in education. Click here to learn more about the CYT@school program.

As a mother of 2nd grader attending a public school in Seattle, WA, I regularly wonder about the arts education my daughter is (or is not) receiving at school. I’m blessed that my daughter’s school includes of a community of arts-minded parents who volunteer their time and knowledge to the students, to ensure that the arts are included in their educational experience, regardless of district funding and staffing. I’ve even had the pleasure of being able to direct the last two plays at her school (cast size: approx 130!). I witness first hand the joy and community that the arts inspire at my daughter’s school. However, I know that this privilege is not afforded to many, many schools & communities in our country. I lament that all children don’t have these opportunities. Sadly, arts in education is still viewed by many as a non-essential element for education and consequently, receives inadequate funding. But, some groups are working to change that perception.

This past January,The LA Times posted on the National Assn. of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention in Anaheim, CA. In their article, they reported on the benefits of arts in education. They stated:

Though topics at the National Assn. of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention in Anaheim most often trend toward musicians, musical instruments and how they interact, one panel at the annual industry gathering tilted in a decidedly socially conscious direction. (…)

(D)uring a presentation on the benefits of intensive arts education for students at eight of the nation’s lowest performing public schools (….) The results of a two-year study were unveiled Thursday, and the numbers demonstrated dramatic improvement in academic performance — not just in math, science and reading, but also in improved attendance rates and significant reductions in disciplinary problems reflected in reduced suspension and expulsion statistics at more than half of the schools.

Among the study’s key findings: Students in the eight schools that incorporated arts programs into their regular curricula exhibited an average 22.6% increase in math proficiency and a 12.6% improvement in reading proficiency. Those figures exceeded increases in the their districts as a whole (20.1% and 7.9%, respectively), and were markedly higher than other schools in their states receiving federal school improvement grants (SIG), at 16.2% and 5.6% respectively.

(Please click here to read the rest of this inspiring article from latimes.com.)

At CYT, we also strongly believe in the value of arts in education. We are deeply committed to serving all children through the arts, including when they are at school. One way that we do so is through our CYT@school program. Here is an excerpt from our CYT@school Mission Statement:

Many schools have had to cut their arts programs. CYT@school is dedicated to bringing to your school a low-cost, after school program developed to support the performing arts training in public and private schools. Research has shown that performing arts helps students gain confidence, build leadership skills and develop a sense of community. CYT wants to ensure that students everywhere have an opportunity to experience theater arts.

Our CYT San Diego affiliate currently serves 30+ schools with their successful CYT@school program. Click here to learn more about CYT@school and see if it’s right for your school. If you are interested in starting up a CYT@school program in your school, email: heather@cyt.org for more information.

It is our hope that eventually arts will be seen an a necessity in education rather than just a “perk.”

8 Reasons to Work for CYT – by Sarah Preston, CYT Santa Cruz

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About the Author: Sarah Preston started with CYT Santa Cruz in the spring of 2012. Since then, she has Stage Managed multiple productions, coached Improv, taught class and CYT@School, coordinated summer camps, assisted in fundraising, and serves as HYPE Advisor.

After 10 years of working with kids, I can honestly say I have never been more challenged and inspired than during my time with CYT Santa Cruz. It has changed the way I think about kids, artistry, families, and ministry.

Here are my 8 Reasons to Work for CYT

1. CYT makes you laugh

Once at auditions, an 18 year old (improv kid of course) sang “If You’re Happy and You Know It” as his audition song. His final verse?

If you’re happy and you know it give a wink
If you’re happy and you know it give a wink
If you’re happy and want a creepy way to show it
If you’re happy and you know it give a wink

I always cherish moments like this because the kids remind me not to take things so seriously. So often I can get wrapped up in the craziness of shows, classes, CYT@School, HYPE etc that I forget about the real reason I work for CYT: to serve God by serving kids. When a kid tells a funny joke or makes a funny face, it awakens the Child-loving Holy Spirit inside my heart.

2. The kids give you perspective.

As HYPE Advisor, I try to encourage critical thinking during our meetings. Continue reading

Q&A with CYT Indy’s Artistic Director Tyler Hutchinson

To know him is to love him. Tyler Hutchinson is the (new-ish) Artistic Director for CYT Indianapolis, and he recently sat down with me to talk about how he became a part of the CYT family, the scope of his job, and his big dreams (which are both centered around animals). Intrigued? Read on!

You’re the new Artistic Director for CYT Indy. How did that opportunity come about?

CYT Indy had an amazing Artistic Director before myself, Angela Manlove. She was amazing. However the Lord called her and her husband to Boston. Upon her departure, the position became available and gratefully the Board of Directors felt that I was the best fit for the job after reviewing my resume and my involvement with CYT students and families.

What did you do prior to coming on at CYT?

Locally, I was a director for high schools and other independent groups. I also worked for a company where I traveled the country auditioning and developing talented actors, models, singers, and dancers that have a desire to perform for God. It kept me pretty busy, and to be honest…I was on a plane every weekend going to a new city. I actually still do it every now and again, just not as much.

Tyler with the CYT Indy Tour Group singing the national anthem at an Indiana Fever Basketball

Tyler with the CYT Indy Tour Group singing the national anthem at an Indiana Fever Basketball

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HYPE students are taking action this fall!

There are a million reasons to love HYPE. They’re CYT teens from around the country who are dedicated to pursuing excellence by taking on leadership roles and getting involved in the community around them. And now, their HYPE passion is about to explode all over the country this fall! Which give us all the more reason to love them to bits.

HYPE students from CYT Spokane

HYPE students from CYT Spokane

Following the 2014 CYT EXPO, the HYPE students have been proactive by following up with the ideas that they discussed in July. Students have been creating collaborative groups on Facebook for their different jobs, and have been sharing ideas with one another about what they are doing in their HYPE groups. They have been sharing pictures of their retreats and fall kick-offs, and have shown an overall enthusiasm for leading and growing in their specific areas.

CYT Santa Cruz

CYT Santa Cruz

A huge shout-out to Sean Grossnickle’s awesome idea of casts writing letters to one another – either to a cast in another area who’s doing the same show or a cast performing the same weekend. Although he encouraged HYPE groups to spearhead the letter writing, it’s open for any and every CYT area that wants to participate. 

CYT Houston

CYT Houston

It’s so cool that the students are being innovative and sparking movements among the CYT groups. This is exactly the vision that was set for them at the Expo, and it’s so encouraging to see it take form!

Find out more about HYPE and how you can get involved HERE

A glowing review for CCT’s Les Misérables

The below review on Christian Community Theater’s (CCT) Les Misérables was published in The East County Californian. If the article doesn’t give you happy chills, then the below promo video will.

You still have four chances to see the show: July 30 – 31 & Aug 1-2. Yesssss! Tickets available HERE.

Les Misérables engages and amazes audiences with stellar performance

Les Misérables cast dreamed a dream in a time gone by. Three hours time to be specific. And the time went by too fast.

From start to finish, the musical was engaging. This cast was faced with big shoes to fill, as this is a story line of large magnitude as well as literary significance. The shoe fit perfectly. Their paramount performance brought laughs, tears and sighs to a large, expectant crowd. 

Each member, both lead and supporting, exhibited an amazing dedication throughout the duration of the play. Never breaking face and continuing to act in the background were small acts of commitment that paid off big. 

It was as if every character cast could not have been played more significantly by any other. As an experienced performer, Matthew Posner played the lead role of Jean Valjean. The time progression throughout the musical and his ability to believably act according to each different year clearly showed his capabilities as a performer. Valjean’s character’s difficult but admirable journey was portrayed perfectly in the hands of this actor. The juxtaposition between him and Jon Thuerbach’s character Javert, who is set on finding the escaped Valjean and enforcing the law, is a relationship that’s intricate nature of crime and punishment is seamlessly developed and presented by the two.

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Top 10 Longest Running Broadway Shows

Have you ever seen a show on Broadway? It’s quite magical. For some shows, you can take your time heading to NYC to see it since it will likely be playing well into the future. For others, time is of the essence.

Most Broadway shows have open-ended runs, meaning that the length of time the production plays is not set beforehand. It all comes down to ticket sales, which are determined by critical response, word of mouth, and the effectiveness of the show’s advertising.  

I came across the below infographic that shows the top 10 longest running Broadway shows and thought it was pretty interesting. We missed our chance to see Les Miserables (dang!), but Phantom of the Opera is still going strong (they recently just celebrated their 11,000th performance).

Sidenote/good news: CCT is putting on Les Miserables atop Mt Helix this summer. There’s hope for us all! Get tickets here.

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  1. Phantom of the Opera
  2. Cats
  3. Chicago
  4. Les Miserables
  5. The Lion King
  6. A Chorus Line
  7. Oh! Calcutta!
  8. Beauty and the Beast
  9. Rent
  10. Mamma Mia!
  11. (Photo credit)

Buzz around CCT returning to Mount Helix with ‘Les Miserables’

The below article was recently published in Refreshed Magazine. Tickets are now on sale for ‘Les Miserables’ and can be purchased HERE.

The stage for ‘Les Miserables’ is being built for Mount Helix’s amphitheater.

The stage for ‘Les Miserables’ is being built for Mount Helix’s amphitheater.

Travis Russell was just a kid when his parents, founders of Christian Community Theater, hosted summer musicals under the stars atop Mount Helix’s amphitheater.

“It feels magical,” he said of the outdoor performances.

Long considered a crown jewel of East County, the amphitheater and cross, constructed by the Yawkey family in 1925, was deeded to the county as a public park four years later. At 1,370 feet, the park, which has hosted Easter sunrise services for decades, is known as much for its 360-degree views and its towering 35-foot cross.

“We acquired some footage, old black-and-white, of the cross being constructed,” he said. “It was amazing to see the community coming together and building a space they loved. It made me proud to be able to carry on the tradition of being part of a community.”

But the summer drama tradition was threatened in 2005 when several Mount Helix neighbors sued CCT over noise complaints. Although the theater ministry ultimately won the lawsuit, it spent $90,000 in legal fees.

“Then the same neighbors complained about parking and that increased our cost of buses to the point where it cost us more for buses than putting on the production,” said Travis’ father, Paul Russell who, with his wife Sheryl, launched CCT with a 1980 production of “The Sound of Music” at the amphitheater.

In 2011, after 26 years of presenting as many as three shows a summer, CCT ceased its Mount Helix shows, instead using the USS Midway and the Lincoln Performing Arts Center to present its popular San Diego Follies and the Traditions of Christmas.

On July 17, though, the tradition returns to Mount Helix when CCT presents the popular “Les Miserables.” The show runs through Aug. 2, with dark days on July 21, 22, 28 and 29. The Russells decided to resume the mountaintop show after officials with the Mount Helix Park Foundation invited them back.

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