School drama programs across the country are in danger. The Department of Education reports a 16% drop in public elementary school instruction for drama/theatre over the past ten years, and a 3% drop in secondary schools. In our current economy, drama programs are at greater risk, as state and local legislators look to cut education budgets to make up for funding shortfalls.
Studies have shown that schools with arts-integrated programs, even in low-income areas, report higher academic achievement. Students who participate in drama experience improved reading comprehension, maintain better attendance records, and are more engaged in school than their non-arts counterparts. Despite this, theatre and drama programs are being cut from school curricula.
March has been designated by the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) as Theatre In Our Schools month, the time of year to advocate and celebrate the benefits of theatre education and raise awareness of theatre education's power to improve academic achievement, raise SAT scores, and stimulate innovation and creativity among young people.
Participation in Theatre In Our Schools month continues to grow each year, reaching more artists, educators, students, parents, and theatre supporters. Whether it's contacting policymakers or school administrators, wearing your show shirt to school, sharing student works through USA PlayDaze (a playwriting exercise shared on Facebook and Twitter), or attending professional development conferences for theatre artists and educators, you can help increase awareness of the benefits of an early and solid education in drama and theatre arts.
For more information on the benefits of school theatre programs, regional conferences, or Theatre In Our Schools month, visit www.aate.com.
Theatre In Our Schools (TIOS) is a month-long national event reaching thousands of students, educators, actors, musicians, administrators, and supporters to increase public awareness of the broad social impacts of youth theatre. TIOS month features performances, classroom activities, student playwriting and video contests, and regional conferences designed to spread the word about the powerful effects drama and theatre have on youth development. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) is among the most recognized arts education organizations in the country. AATE works to ensure that every young person experiences quality theatre arts in their lives provided by proficient, talented artists, and educators.