The Arts – A Class Act for Sampson Students

Participants in Class Acts-Sampson CenterStage for Students
Presented in partnership with local schools and provided FREE-OF-CHARGE through generous corporate and community support, “Class Acts-Sampson CenterStage for Students” introduces Sampson County students to the performing arts in an educational and entertaining setting. Annually, over 8,000 students visit the Sampson County Exposition Center to attend live performances specifically designed for various grade levels and curriculum alignments. In advance of each performance, teachers are provided study guides designed to educate as well as enhance the theatre-going experience of each student. Class Acts has earned statewide recognition for not only the quality of its programming, but for the enthusiastic financial support of the local community which fully sustains this valuable program developed to enhance the educational experiences of our children…tomorrow’s leaders.


The Arts Lift Us Out of Ourselves

Angie Flynn-McIver
“A young man, a community college student, recently came to NC Stage see the first play of his life as a requirement for a class. He confessed he thought it would be ‘a bore.’ In the email we received after the play, however, he described an experience that transported him out of his life, gave him compassion for the characters onstage, and gave him a new perspective on the themes of the play. As a producer and director, this experience epitomizes why I love the arts–they lift us out of ourselves while also letting us feel our own humanity more deeply.”

Angie Flynn-McIver, Producing Director – NC Stage Company, Asheville


The Arts Grow Opportunities and Our Local Economy

Catherine Heitz New
In 2006, my husband and I moved to Winston-Salem – we were drawn to the city because it offered him a first-class MBA program at Wake Forest and me a thriving arts community so I could continue my career. In 2008, we decided to STAY in Winston-Salem because it was the kind of place where we wanted to live our lives and grow our careers. The arts play an integral role in that – they recruit and retain new businesses that grow opportunities and our local economy and they create a vibrant community and robust quality of life.

Catherine Heitz-New, Vice President for Development
The Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County


The Arts are a Universal Language

Woman showing young boy how to play the violinLast week I entered a hectic third grade classroom to observe our string ensemble performance. Among the students was a child with Tourette’s Syndrome who was unable to control interjecting ongoing commentary into the room and a child whose physical hyperactivity had resulted in a “special” seat at the rear of the classroom where his nearly constant jumping in and out of his seat would be less distracting to other students in the room. Quite literally the moment the music began, the child with Tourette’s became silent, smiling and transfixed by the music, and the only physical activity from the darling little boy in the back of the room was enthusiastically raising his hand to be called on when the musicians asked students to talk about what how counting musical rhythms was like the fractions they were learning in math class. I will never forget this remarkable demonstration of the power of music as perhaps the most universal language we human’s innately understand and share.

Merritt Vale, President and CEO – Winston-Salem Symphony


The Arts Open Up a New World for Teens

International Festival in FayettevilleWe were providing videography classes for teens who lived in the Metropolitan Housing Authority area. Many of these kids were the second and third generation of their families to grow up in government housing. They met here once a week and worked with a professional videographer to create mini-documentaries. They interviewed the Mayor when they documented how City government works. They went behind the scenes of our local newspaper as they documented how newspapers are published. One day, I walked out of my office to find one of the kids sitting on a bench and next to him was a young girl, maybe seven years old. I asked, “This is your sister, T? Do you have to babysit today?” He looked up at me and said, “No, m’am. I just want her to know there’s something different.”

Deborah Mintz, Executive Director – The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County


The Arts – The Perfect Project-based Learning Activity

Gina HarrisonWhile serving as an accompanist for my daughter’s middle school production of Oliver, I watched students work together, creating characters, blocking scenes, practicing vocal exercises, painting sets, learning harmony. It was thrilling. I was hooked because it was the perfect project-based learning activity. Combining all sorts of disciplines. Engaging a wide variety of students and community. It was a play, it was a musical, but it was really just that in the service of something bigger.

I followed those students to high school where, middle school pickpockets grew up to work on Once Upon a Mattress, Disney’s Beauty & the Beast, Into the Woods, Guys & Dolls, the 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee and Seussical. They traveled to elementary schools and introduced young students to live theatre. They played to standing room-only audiences. They turned the entire house into a glorious forest for Into the Woods. They were nominated for regional awards. They learned time management, how to create characters, collaboration, how to save their voices, how to share the spotlight, how to change keys 6 times in one piece, how to perform in the face of private fears and with the threat of a few very real tragedies. Dedicated, talented, creative teachers worked hundreds of unpaid hours to teach lessons with an incredible slight of hand that makes the teaching almost invisible.

It’s magic. I know, because I get a front seat to watch it all happen.

Gina Harrison, President, Northwood High School Arts Education Foundation