As part of 24th STreet Theatre’s overriding mission of using the arts to give a voice to residents of the under-represented West Adams District of Los Angeles, the theatre’s co-founders Debbie Devine and Jay McAdams strongly advocate for arts education programming and ensuring that all students have access to professional arts instruction. Towards this end, they developed the After ‘Cool Theatre Program, 24th STreet Theatre’s after school arts education and enrichment program for local students who otherwise would have little to no access to arts education and instruction. Besides being fun and engaging, After ‘Cool activities are aligned with the California Standard for the Visual and Performing Arts to help students develop the arts education skills expected for each grade level. Project Director, Debbie Devine, was one of the first 25 arts administrators/artists in the County certified by the LA County Arts Commission to provide arts education training that incorporates the Standards for the Visual and Performing Arts and the core curriculum Standards in math, reading and language arts.
24th STreet Theatre’s After ‘Cool Theatre Program is an educational and thought provoking after-school program that brings students into the theatre for supervised afternoons of arts education programming. The program is offered in three ten-week sessions operating three days per week from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. Each session is taught and facilitated by award-winning theatre professionals and includes a variety of activities such as script writing, movement, improvisation, and costuming, all done in a professional theatre environment — on stage at 24th STreet Theatre. The program expands arts learning to non-verbal communication forms of dance and movement – important elements for a community with a high number of English Language learners. 24th STreet Theatre arts education staff and various professional artists lead the individual sessions.
Now more than ever, our young people need a well-balanced education, strong life skills and the ability to perceive a better life for themselves in order to become self-sustaining members of our community. While these elements may come naturally in many middle to upper class neighborhoods, they are beyond the grasp of most inner-city students. This is certainly true in our own University Park neighborhood composed primarily of low-income families where most of the neighborhood youth are defined “at greater risk” as they face daily exposure to gang activity, drug and alcohol abuse at school and in the streets, welfare or single parent families, lack of supervision, and homelessness. The After ‘Cool Theatre Program offers free professional theatre arts activities designed to stimulate young minds, offer creative approaches to thinking “outside the box,” and a forum for presenting a wide array of perspectives and cultures.