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EdTA JumpStart Theatre Initiative Leaps to National Stage with Major Gift from NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt

Thespians singing on stage at the International Thespian Festival

The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) announced that Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, made a sizable personal donation to EdTA earmarked for JumpStart Theatre. JumpStart Theatre builds sustainable musical theatre programs in schools where there previously were none. Mr. Greenblatt’s support is being announced November 12 at Thespians Go Hollywood, a benefit cabaret held in Los Angeles to raise funds for growing access to theatre in underserved schools.

Robert GreenblattHS1

JumpStart Theatre equips non-theatre teachers with the skills and resources to produce their school’s first musical through a proven combination of hands-on mentoring and boot-camp style training. EdTA developed the program in partnership with NYC-based companies Music Theatre International and iTheatrics. It has been run as a pilot in Cincinnati, and will be expanded next to St. Louis and San Diego through partnerships with STAGES St. Louis and the La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California.

“From the outset, the intention of JumpStart Theatre was to be sustainable and implemented in underserved middle schools nationwide,” says EdTA Executive Director Julie Cohen Theobald. “My deepest appreciation goes to Bob Greenblatt for his leadership role in bringing our vision to life.”  

In making the announcement Mr. Greenblatt said, “I’m extremely proud to be getting in on JumpStart Theatre from the ground floor.  As someone whose life was fundamentally enriched by a robust theatre program in my high school in Rockford, Illinois, I believe that bringing theatre to young people in as many schools as possible is vital.  We know the powerful social and developmental benefits that kids get from the arts, and it’s up to us to fill in the gaps as public and government funding becomes more scarce. I can’t imagine how different my life and career would be had I not grown up with theatre and music, and if I can help bring that to other kids across the country nothing would make me happier.” 

Additionally, The Shubert Foundation recently announced a grant to support the expansion of the JumpStart Theatre program. In making the award Michael I. Sovern, president of The Shubert Foundation said, “The Shubert Foundation is proud and excited to help further this worthy endeavor.” It is the first time The Shubert Foundation has given a grant to an educational program outside of New York City.

Of the JumpStart Theatre partnership, Jack Lane, Executive Producer of STAGES stated, “In our many years of providing education and outreach and being so profoundly moved by its transformative powers, we feel JumpStart Theatre is a natural fit for STAGES.”

“The opportunity to be an inaugural regional partner for JumpStart Theatre is an honor. To bring the joy of musical theatre to students and teachers in our community while building life skills through participation in the arts could not be a better fit for the Playhouse,” said La Jolla Playhouse Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg.

Mr. Greenblatt added, “I hope my gift will encourage other theatre and television professionals, or anyone who values young kids having access to the arts, to join me in supporting this great program.”

See related article announcing the launch of the Educational Theatre Foundation, the fundraising arm of EdTA.


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