BrightLights Education Initiatives
Since 2009, RPAA has served as a catalyst and funder in the design of several comprehensive arts partnerships, which brought together arts partners and seven surrounding school systems, to create programs that uniquely applied the arts to new methods of teaching and learning--spanning grades Pre-K through 12. While those programs saw many successes, we also found challenges in implementation, including our ability to most effectively balance depth versus breadth across the region. As a result, our programs and services were restructured in 2015 including ELLA, artist residencies, and performance-based learning events. ELLA (Early Literacy Learning through the Arts) introduced artist residencies that use performing arts strategies to teach literacy skills to Pre-K students as well as professional development (PD) for teachers and artists that included strategies for teaching in and through the arts. K-12 Artist Residencies focused on middle and high schools (in school-day and after-school settings) which grew from our earlier work in developing artistic and academic skills in students but were specially designed to meet the articulated goals of the teachers. Performance-Based Learning Events included opportunities for students to learn about the arts (including careers) during Chat-backs, master classes and lecture-demonstrations with touring artists which were often live-streamed and/or recorded for online distribution to schools. In October 2018, RPAA became the 19th affiliate for the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts and launched the Greater Richmond Wolf Trap program. Like ELLA, this program pairs active learning experiences for children with powerful, effective professional development for early childhood educators. BrightLigths Education programs also provide student performance opportunities in our venues, such as "Bardathon", an annual collaboration with Quill Theatre and subsidies to underwrite rent/production costs for school systems to produce culminating events (i.e. district-wide festivals). Currently, RPAA will offer a unique summer camp opportunity to work in our Digital Arts Lab and has expanded our Lights Up! Event from a biennial one-day event into a five-part series beginning in our 2019-2020 fiscal year.
RPAA is committed to presenting first-class artists from around the world and around the corner. RPAA is home to twelve resident arts companies and also presents national and international artists including well-known artists such as Tony Bennett, James Taylor, Bale Folclorico da Bahia, Patti LaBelle, and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. RPAA is unique in its operation as a private-public partnership and strives to serve its community in the best way possible. As we plan our programming for each season, RPAA is mindful of the barriers to access that we must address so that each citizen of our region has the opportunity to experience the transformational power of the performing arts. RPAA's goal is to make the arts as widely accessible as possible while providing high-quality performances, workshops, and classes.
Digital Arts Lab
The Digital Arts Lab serves as a through-line in all our education programs, providing capabilities for online tools for use in the classroom and at home. It also provides capacity for disseminating content to classrooms and homes, via live-streaming and recorded events. Most principally, it provides unique workforce development skills for young people through hands-on instruction in video production--students learn all aspects of camera set-up, shooting, editing and uploading for use on the web. Many of our graduates have gone on to film studies programs across the county and to work on film sets.