Through BTU: Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore, Towson University faculty, students, and staff are working with 300+ organizations across Maryland to address community needs. This work is having an impact.
To create event greater potential impact, one of the goals of BTU is to create a support system to scale, sustain, and align existing Towson University partnerships and collaborations. Beginning in spring 2018, TU will launch an official application process for BTU Project Support to support efforts in the following areas:
- BTU Priority Investments
- BTU Emerging Idea Support
- BTU Gap Funding
- National Visibility Support
- BTU Enrichment Support
I will be sharing more about this in the coming months as they develop. In the meantime, however, I would like to highlight a pilot project that is currently being supported through BTU and that has served as a model for developing the formalized BTU Project Support system, starting with Towson Theatre Infusion.
About Towson Theatre Infusion
Towson Theatre Infusion (TTI), a program within the College of Fine Arts and Communication, works to provide educational experiences to high school students in preparation for their attendance at theatre production at Towson University’s Mainstage in order to:
- Create inquisitive and appreciate audiences by exposing high school students to viewpoints of the playwright, designers, director, and actors
- Broaden awareness by exposing high school students to different aspects of theatre performance by Towson University
- Expose high school students to Towson University, as a potential future education path
- Develop a positive connection between high school teachers, students, their families, and TU’s College of Fine Arts and Communication to build patronage of theatre and the arts in a new generation
- Provide Towson University students within the Department of Theatre Arts with skills and connections in the professional world
Towson University’s Department of Theatre Arts partners with high school English, theatre, and social studies classes throughout Maryland to provide teaching artist visits to their schools, then bringing the high school students to TU’s campus for a live theatre performance.
The program consists of the following elements:
- TU undergraduate theatre students visit the high schools to provide two interactive theatre workshops (one before and one following the attendance of the live performance at TU)
- High school students attend a student matinee of a Department of Theatre Arts production
- High school students participate in an after-show discussion with the cast, director, and production team following the performance
- A new curriculum guide is provided to the high school classroom teachers to integrate the theatrical experience into the larger curriculum
A Partnership Success Story
Since its inception ten years ago, TTI has become a tremendous success, serving 300–600 high school students each semester, requiring a second student matinee to be offered. High school teachers have recognized the value that these experiences add to their curriculum and often sign up a year in advance. As of fall 2017, this demand was exceeding the ability for Towson University to meet it, which is where BTU came in.
“Thanks to BTU’s support, especially in the form of transportation and additional resources, the Towson Theatre Infusion program was able to bring students to our campus from schools which otherwise would not have been able to participate because of budget constraints. We were not only able to expand our program this year to include middle schools, we also added to our partners with high school students from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, thus allowing middle and high school students and their teachers from across the state to learn more about themselves and their world through the experience of live theatre. It has been a truly transformative experience for all involved and we can now look forward to reconnecting with these and more schools next year.”
—Susan Rotkovitz, Director, Arts Integration Institute
With the support of BTU, Towson Theatre Infusion has been able to facilitate better communication with and provide transportation to participating Maryland high schools, develop a new curriculum guide to support high school teachers, and provide consistent program support with dedicated student employees, curriculum presentation, and logistical support. In Fall 2017, eight local schools and approximately 300 students participated in TTI, in conjunction with the fall Mainstage production of Pride and Prejudice. Looking ahead, TTI will invite all eight schools, as well as several others that were unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts, to participate in fall 2018, hire additional teaching assistants in order to reach additional partnering schools, and continue to train and mentor TU’s undergraduate theatre majors in the role of teaching artists in order to meet the demands of the expanded program.
Keep an eye out for future blog posts that highlight the impact and success of BTU: Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore!