The Theatre in Our Schools Month (TIOS) campaign in March is a grassroots effort to draw attention to the benefits of having theatre in the schools, as well as to the need for more access to quality programs for all students.
TIOS is jointly led by the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE), the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), and the International Thespian Society (ITS). Hundreds of schools and thousands of students and theatre educators are taking the message to their communities, school boards, and elected officials during March, as well as spreading the word online, of how their school theatre experience is giving them 21st century skills. Disney Theatrical Productions is a sponsor of Theatre in Our Schools Month.
Josh Radnor, who stars as a high school theatre teacher on the upcoming drama series RISE, speaks out in a video in support of the campaign. In it he says, “Training our muscles in compassion and empathy…is the eternal gift of the theatre.”
Radnor is an alum of Thespian troupe 2512 at Bexley High School near Columbus in Ohio. He became widely known through his work in the television show How I Met Your Mother. He has also appeared on Broadway and in film. The inspiration for RISE, premiering March 13 on NBC, is a high school theatre teacher who had a major impact on his school and community over his 40 year career.
The TIOS campaign will also feature video testimonials from actors Telly Leung and Lauryn Ciardullo who are currently in Aladdin on Broadway, and Jelani Remi and Chondra Profit, who are currently in The Lion King on Broadway. Leung plays Aladdin; his other Broadway credits include Allegiance, the revivals of Flower Drum Song , Pacific Overtures, and Rent. He played Wes on Fox’s Glee. Remi, who plays Simba is also a director, choreographer, and teacher. The videos will be distributed via social media during March with the hashtag #TIOS18.
See the March/April issue of Teaching Theatre for a story about the teacher and check out the April issue of Dramatics for a story on Josh Radnor.
Thespian troupes have the opportunity to apply for the TIOS Outstanding Impact Award by conducting activities in their school, in their communities including the media, and with elected officials.
A study from The College Board shows that students who took four years of arts classes in high school scored an average of 92 points higher on their SATs than students who took only one half year or less.
But, warns EdTA Executive Director, Julie Cohen Theobald, there is a troubling gap in opportunities for access. According to the U. S. Department of Education, only 28 percent of public high schools in high poverty areas offer theatre instruction and according to the National Endowment for the Arts Office of Research and Analysis, African-American and Hispanic students had less than half the access to the arts as white students. “That is why,” she adds, “raising awareness and support is so important.”
According to a 2016 poll “Americans Speak Out about the Arts: An In-Depth Look at Perceptions and Attitudes about the Arts in America,” conducted by Americans for the Arts:
- 9 in 10 American adults agree that the arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education.
- 90 percent believe students should receive an education in the arts in elementary school, middle school, and high school.
Organized by Americans for the Arts, the 31st annual national Arts Advocacy Day is taking place in Washington, D. C. on March 12-13.
AATE’s Director of Operations, Alexis Truitt, adds that while instruction time in the arts is decreasing, schools are finding new ways of creating learning opportunities. By spotlighting theatre education in the month of March, the organizations showcase the important work happening in schools stages across the country.
For more information about TIOS visit schooltheatre.org/programs/tios and follow #TIOS18 and #TheatreinOurSchools on social media.