The Dallas Independent School District awarded its highest honor, the 2020 Superintendent’s Award, to the nonprofit AT&T Performing Arts Center last month.
For more than a decade, the Center has partnered with Dallas ISD schools providing a range of arts education programs stretching across elementary, middle, and high school students.
“Supporting Dallas students through our diverse range of education programs is core to our mission at the Center,” said Debbie Storey, president and CEO of AT&T Performing Arts Center. “Study after study proves that access to quality arts education is transformative in terms of academic performance, and it is our pleasure to collaborate with an innovative district like Dallas ISD. We are truly honored to receive this award.”
The Superintendent’s Award recognizes individuals, a business, or a group for outstanding, ongoing support on a districtwide basis, including volunteer service, special programs, funding, or a combination of all of these. Past recipients include the Pat and Emmitt Smith Foundation and HEB/Central Market. Accepting the award for the Center were Storey, Center board member Jill B. Louis, chair of its Education and Community Engagement Committee, and Autumn Garrison, director of education and community engagement.
The Center’s programs have brought students to the Center for live Broadway and dance performances presented in association with TITAS/DanceUnbound, pre-show workshops with professional teaching artists, a conference to teach young women leadership skills through the arts, and hands-on technical training in the backstage arts.
The Center’s Disney Musicals in Schools program has also helped establish sustainable theatre programs in elementary schools. Thanks to the support of its donors, foundations, and corporations, the Center has provided these to the district at no cost.
After the closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the center quickly pivoted to virtual learning, creating video presentations of these programs to help address challenges faced through online learning. This coursework was shared beyond the center’s regular partner schools, providing arts education to even more students.
“Even as teachers shifted to virtual instruction, the AT&T Performing Arts Center responded by creating innovative resources to keep students engaged in the arts during these challenging times,” said Rachel Harrah, director of Theatre and Dance for Dallas ISD. “The Center’s steadfast commitment to Dallas ISD over the past decade has provided exciting opportunities for thousands of students and further emphasizes their invaluable partnership.”
This year’s Virtual Stages offerings include programs to help address racial equity and social justice through arts education, backstage technical training videos, a movement series specially designed for students with disabilities, and a virtual monologue competition for high school students.