Tony Award Winner Kelli O'Hara Spokesperson for Theatre in Our Schools Campaign

Students and Teachers Staging Activities in 28 States

Feb 29, 2016, 12:35 ET from Educational Theatre Association

CINCINNATI, Feb. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Conventional wisdom accepts that Star Wars and the Super Bowl attract an audience of millions. What's less well known is that about 50 million people attend more than 37,000 school theatre performances annually in the United States.

The Theatre in Our Schools (TIOS) Campaign in March, is an opportunity to inform them, and millions more, that the pleasure they get from seeing a show is just one of many benefits that school theatre brings to all involved. A January 2016 article in American Theatre compiled data from licensing houses to estimate the total annual school theatre audience. 

Winner of a 2015 Tony for The King and I, Kelli O'Hara is the 2016 spokesperson for the TIOS Campaign, a program to raise public awareness of the value of theatre education and draw attention to the need for more access to quality programs for all students. The program is jointly sponsored by the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) and the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA).

Ms. O'Hara has recorded a series of PSAs. In the first being released today, she tells what she learned from theatre education—a lesson more far-reaching than learning lines.  To promote TIOS she, along with the members of AATE, EdTA and the 100,000 members of International Thespian Society for drama students, will be sharing them on social media.

In a recent interview she elaborated saying, "Education is the most essential tool we can use in order to lead a full and passionate life.  I learned what it meant to love art, to embrace differences, to break down walls of insecurity, and to grow as an actress and as a person." O'Hara credited her drama teacher at Deer Creek High School in Edmond, Oklahoma.

The recent Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), asserts that arts education should be part of the well-rounded education of all students, making this observance timely. TIOS provides an opportunity for students, parents, communities, school boards and elected officials to become familiar with the benefits of school theatre participation. 

Gary Minyard, AATE president said, "Being a part of my high school's theatre department helped shape my artistic curiosity. I'm thrilled to celebrate TIOS and advocate for the power of live theatrical experiences."

Julie Theobald, EdTA Executive Director said, "Think about how many adults fear public speaking—that wouldn't be the case if there was theatre in every school."

She added participation in theatre in school is closely aligned with the development of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication, key skills cited in the 21st Century Skills Map, a guide for arts educators developed through a non-profit collaboration of business leaders and arts associations, including EdTA and AATE.

For more information visit Theatre in Our Schools and follow #TIOS16 and #TheatreinOurSchools.

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SOURCE Educational Theatre Association