Tag Archives: Renaissance Education Department

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What is Operation Bridge Building?

By Audra DeLaney

A couple of fall mornings each year, something magical happens at the Renaissance Theatre. School buses begin to pull into the parking lot and as soon as they are parked, children get off with their teachers and get in line to come inside. They have all arrived to participate in an program put on by the Renaissance Education Department called Operation Bridge Building.

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Operation Bridge Building started in 2008 and is the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra’s major education initiative for local schools. The program is designed to both enhance K-5 classroom courses, as well as support the music education for those in public or private school and those who are home schooled in Richland county and surrounding counties. To help prepare students to attend the Operation Bridge Building full-scale symphony concerts here at the Renaissance, we provide them with study guides that go over the music the students will hear and show them how to be good audience members. As well, small groups of Mansfield Symphony Orchestra members visit schools to put on more intimate concerts for the students. Operation Bridge Building serves well over 7,000 local students annually through the full-scale symphony concerts in the theatre and the in-school chamber concerts.

Director of Operations/Education Manager Chelsie Thompson said that each year the schedule for the full-scale symphony concerts is pretty much the same.

“Musicians start to arrive at 8:45 AM, school buses start to arrive by 9:15 AM. We have about 8-10 volunteers and staff that run between the parking lot and building to get students into their seats. Some volunteers meet the buses and lead them up to the doors, others wait at the doors and take the kids from there into the theatre,” Chelsie said. “The first concert begins at 9:45 AM and lasts between 35-45 minutes depending on the age group of the students. We release the kids by school and they head out to buses, so the theatre feels really quiet all of a sudden. In between concerts, the musicians take a break – they might grab a cup of coffee, have meetings or rehearse, practice their parts, or just read a book. The next group of students starts to arrive around 11:15 AM and we do it all over again for the 11:45 AM concert.”

Last year, ten school districts sent a total of sixteen schools to participate in the full-scale symphony concerts here at the Ren. An additional seven districts, a total of thirteen schools, participated in this initiative through our in-school chamber concerts. All in all, we were able to serve 29 schools across 17 districts in 2016.

Chelsie said the performances that happen in a school rather than in the theatre are designed to be a little bit more personal.

“We have a very well-established brass trio, woodwind trio, and string quartet,” Chelsie said. “Each group has a unique, varied repertoire and script that they use for these 45-minute concerts, covering everything from classical to pop to traditional folk music.”

The full-scale symphony concerts preformed here at the Renaissance are designed to expose children to a wide variety of instruments, as well as using music to tie in state standards.

“Our main education concerts here at the Ren are tied to core curriculum standards, often literacy, math, or social studies, and these are a great opportunity to reinforce the material that students are learning in the classroom as well as take students on an exciting arts field trip,” Chelsie said.

Altogether, Operation Bridge Building engages students and teachers alike by providing high quality symphonic programming and a curriculum that integrates the arts with academics.

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The Operation Bridge Building program is underwritten so that schools may participate free of charge. Without community support, schools would have to pay upwards of $4 per student to participate in this program. As a result of not charging for schools to participate, they save a combined $25,000 each year. Our concert schedule fills up very quickly, so we highly encourage interested schools to contact us early.

This year, the Operation Bridge Building concert here at the Renaissance Theatre will take place on October 19 at 9:45 AM and 11:45 AM and October 20 at 9:45 AM. and 11:45 AM. If you or your school would like to learn more about Operation Bridge Building, please contact Chelsie Thompson at chelsie@mansfieldtickets.com or 419-522-2726 ext. 251.

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Arts Education: Why & How We Educate 15,000 Students a Year

By Audra DeLaney

Arts education is one key element to understanding the world around us.

“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, paining, and theatre are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.” – Former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett

Our Education Director Chelsie Thompson, along with Education Assistant Dauphne Maloney and a wealth of teaching artists and ensemble directors, provide educational experiences to over 15,000 students in our community across all generations through dozens of educational programs we offer each year. Here is a full list of all of the programs supported by the Renaissance Education Department at this time:

  • Mansfield Symphony Youth Orchestra
  • Mansfield Symphony Youth Strings
  • Teddy Bear Concerts
  • Mansfield Youth Theatre (MY Theatre)
  • Sensory Friendly Performances
  • Renaissance Youth Opera Theatre (RYOT)
  • Improv Underground
  • Broadway Camp!
  • Integrated Theatre Company
  • Mindsprouts Creative Writing Contest
  • Ghost Story ELA Field Trips
  • Partners in Education
  • Operation Bridge Building
  • Children’s Theatre Foundation Partnership
  • Professional Development
  • Internships

Each of these programs and partnerships bring something different to the educational experience offered at the Renaissance Theatre. By the names of these programs, one can gather that many of them are geared toward youth. While we know that fostering an affinity for the arts early is important, we also know that the arts can affect the life of an individual at any point and time.

In high school, athletics was my strong suit. I loved everything about them, from action packed games to early morning practices. While I still have an admiration for athletics, I have grown to respect the type of change and growth the arts are capable of bringing about in someone.

Finally, arts education plays a role in understanding what it means to be human. The National Standards for Arts Education states, “. . . the arts have been an inseparable part of the human journey; indeed, we depend on the arts to carry us toward the fullness of our humanity. We value them for themselves, and because we do, we believe knowing and practicing them is fundamental to the healthy development of our children’s minds and spirits. That is why, in any civilization – ours included – the arts are inseparable from the very meaning of the term ‘education.’ We know from long experience that no one can claim to be truly educated who lacks basic knowledge and skills in the arts.”

Being human is a journey, one that is full of highs and lows, triumphs and failures, spotless performances and ones where all the microphones don’t turn on. The Renaissance Education Department believes in celebrating the imagination in each of us through real-world experiences that help each person see the journey they and others around them are trailblazing. Programs, partnerships, professional development workshops, and internships are offered to help individuals gain experience and knowledge in their areas of interest, but also to give each person who walks through our doors a look into the life of someone else, what they are grappling with, and how that person’s gifts and talents can be utilized to positively impact those around them.

German Poet Bertolt Brecht elaborated on this thought when he said, “The theater-goer in conventional dramatic theater says: Yes, I’ve felt that way, too. That’s the way I am. That’s life. That’s the way it will always be. The suffering of this or that person grips me because there is no escape for him. That’s great art — Everything is self-evident. I am made to cry with those who cry, and laugh with those who laugh.”

If you would like more information on programs offered by the Renaissance Education Department, stay tuned for more posts on the individual programs or contact Chelsie Taylor Thompson at chelsie@mansfieldtickets.com or 419-522-2726 ext 251.