Breaking Down Barriers for ALL Kids

Over the past 20 years, Rodman for Kids’ Theatre for Kids program has introduced more than 80,000 kids to the wonder of live, professional theater.  This past year, we were intentional about breaking down barriers to arts access for ALL kids. 

“While limited financial resources are a significant barrier to arts access, we realize that kids with different abilities may also face hurdles to attending live performances.  The Theatre for Kids program was created to ensure all kids have access to the wonder of live, professional theater, and we are committed to providing that opportunity for every child regardless of their unique circumstances,” said Amy Rossman, Executive Director of Rodman for Kids.

Rodman for Kids brought kids living with Autism Spectrum Disorder to a sensory friendly performance of Blue Man Group so that they were comfortable enough to participate in the party, too, by partnering with Broadway In Boston and the Doug Flutie Jr., Foundation. The sensory friendly performance featured modifications that reduced sound and light levels throughout the show, while the Blue Men limited audience interaction. In addition, “chill zones” were available inside the Charles Playhouse for those who needed a calm environment and sensory break and earplugs were available upon request. The Flutie Foundation trained all house and acting staff on how best to interact with the audience members before, during, and after the show to ensure a comprehensive sensory friendly experience for all.

We brought kids who are deaf or hard of hearing to an American Sign Language interpreted performance of “Frozen,” where kids got to have a Q&A with the interpreters after the show. We also brought kids who identify as blind or partially sighted to a touch tour ahead of an audio described performance of “Frozen,” where they got to touch pieces of the costumes, wigs, and set to really understand what was happening on stage.

After seeing the ASL interpreted performance of Disney’s “Frozen” with Rodman for Kids, a mother reached out to say, 

“We had THE BEST TIME!!! Thank you so much for this opportunity. This is something we couldn’t afford right now and would have avoided out of stress of navigating accommodations. However, everyone at the theater was amazingly kind and helpful and were always there to help…like in a proactive way. That has never happened in our lives! We didn’t need to seek out help…mind blown.”

These experiences geared towards kids with different abilities are the first of what we hope to be many as Rodman for Kids expands the idea of what arts access for ALL kids!

In addition to these experiences focused on breaking down barriers for kids with different abilities, Rodman for Kids was able to partner with Broadway In Boston and Springfield Conservatory of the Arts to give inner city high school students a behind the scenes look at everything that goes into creating a Broadway musical and touring it around the country as part of the Innovation Career Pathways and Work-Based Learning Program. A select group of 25 students were Music Production and Advanced Vocals students, all of whom wish to pursue the arts in a professional capacity post-graduation. The course lasted 9 weeks, with the last two weeks being set in Boston to see a performance of Disney’s Frozen (with tickets underwritten by Rodman for Kids), a Q&A with select Frozen cast members, and small group work sessions with wardrobe, hair, and orchestra staff.

Each week, students had conversations with industry professionals covering a range of topics like “how does a show get from Broadway to the road” and “how do you successfully market a touring engagement across the country.” Each guest discussed their own background and how they arrived in their current position, what that current role entails on a day-to-day basis and how it is specifically related to Disney’s Frozen, to show students that they too can work in the arts professionally, regardless of their background. This Broadway education workplace learning course provided a “life changing opportunity” for inner city youth who dream of working in the arts but have not seen a clear path for how to get there.

When asked about the program, Pam Mathison, Career Pathways & Internship Administrator for Springfield Public Schools said,

“We wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without Rodman for Kids; it never would’ve happened. It would just have been a thought or a wish or a dream, and here we are today – changing lives.”

Rodman for Kids is BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS to the arts for ALL kids. You can break down barriers for kids, too.

You can help change lives by partnering with us to introduce kids to the magic of live, professional theatre. Click HERE to support the Theatre for Kids program.

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