Art and education are brought to life for tens of thousands of local students through the Kravis Center's S*T*A*R Series

The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts was founded more than 30 years ago. From the initial feasibility studies in the late 1970s, the community contributed $63 million toward the Center’s capital campaign, enabling the facility to open its doors in 1992 with all construction costs fully funded.

As a presenting organization, the Kravis Center sets the standard for excellence in the South Florida region by bringing the finest performers in every arts discipline. Key to their community-centered mission is to offer “something for everyone,” providing quality programming to diverse audiences at all price points. In addition to providing world-class programming and performances, the Kravis Center also provides comprehensive arts education programs to students of all ages.

Our recent support of the S*T*A*R Series Arts Education Program enables Kravis Center to continue to use their knowledge of the benefits of arts experiences to provide critical and enriching academic and cultural balance to the lives of children and youth in our community.

Continued cuts to arts education budgets have made school-based programs for the arts nearly non-existent. The Kravis Center strives to fill this gap so that the performing arts become a vital part of each student’s education and a love of the arts is fostered, developing future audiences.

The S*T*A*R Series brings classroom curricula and the performing arts to life for tens of thousands of local students each year. From August through May, teachers bring their classes to the Kravis Center for memorable professional performances. To enrich the experience they work with students before and after the performance. Students board buses early in the morning and travel to West Palm Beach, where they attend a live performance by professional performing artists.

In 2017-2018, the S*T*A*R Series presented 178 performances to 58,000 students, primarily in public schools in Palm Beach County. The fifth largest in Florida and 11th largest in the U.S. the School District has 183,000 students in 187 schools. Its population is very diverse: 33% Hispanic, 33% white, 28% African-American, 3% mixed race, 2% Asian and 1% Native American. More than 29,000 students are in English Language Learner classes; they speak 145 languages and come from 197 different countries and territories of birth. Roughly 20% of the children who attend performances each year have special needs and approximately 70% attend schools designated to receive Title I federal funding. The majority of these students are enrolled in the Free or Reduced Price Lunch Program.

The S*T*A*R* Series program incorporates four critical components:

1. Outstanding Works of Art. From September to May, young people travel during school time to the Kravis Center, where they experience current, challenging, diverse and artistically exemplary young people’s programming – in theater, dance and music -- presented by professional artists in a world-class venue.

2. Meaningful Materials. The experience is supported by comprehensive performance guides developed by teaching artists. Performance Curriculum Guides offer pre- and post-performance lessons and activities in multiple disciplines, tailored to each performance, inspiring increased understanding of arts disciplines, classroom discussion and hands-on learning.

3. Access for All Students. The Center’s Admission Waiver Program ensures that no child is denied access to a performance, based on ability to pay. All students who qualify for free/reduced price lunch receive free tickets; field trip tickets for students who can pay are only $5.

4. Free Transportation. The Center spends more than $136,000 each year on field trip bus transportation alone for Palm Beach County public school students to attend these performances.

The S*T*A*R Series is designed around four complementary strategies that are the essential ingredients of an excellent arts education program:

1. Learning – Prior to traveling to the Kravis Center for the performances, students and teachers learn about the production (the artists who created it, its themes, current or historical significance, what to expect from the particular art disciplines). At the Center, the learning is experiential -- they tour a beautiful performing arts center, meet professional performing artists and staff teaching artists, and see a performance. Back in the classroom after the performance, they integrate what they have learned into their academic work and participate in activities that reinforce the experience.

2. Pedagogy – By providing Teaching Artist-designed Performance Curriculum Guides for each performance, the Center provides a valuable tool to teachers and ensures that lessons and activities are tied to age-appropriate curriculum and maximize multi-disciplinary arts and humanities lessons and experiences.

3. Community Dynamics – As many of the students are making their first visit to a performing arts center, teachers are encouraged to prepare their classes for the live performance experience. The Kravis Education Department’s 10-minute Theatre Etiquette video, called Kravis Rules!, orients students prior to attending the live performance. Teachers access the video through a link on the Kravis Center website (https://www.kravis.org/education-community/for-educators/theater-etiquette/). The video focuses on three themes: respect for the theater, respect for the audience and respect for the performers on stage so that everyone can enjoy the best performance experience. Before the beginning of each S*T*A*R Series performance, an Education staff member introduces students to the Kravis Center, explains its role in the wider community, and reminds the audience to follow our three Kravis Rules.

4. Environment – The awe-inspiring physical space of the Kravis Center venue ensures that students have a memorable experience and learn to value the performing arts center as an iconic yet accessible (to them and to their families) center to enjoy and study the arts throughout their lives.

The S*T*A*R Series is designed to spark young peoples’ interest in and appreciation for the arts, while supporting their academic work and expanding their understanding of the wider world.

If you are interested in helping to support this vital arts initiative please click on the button below.

Hayley Little