STS Program Gives Students Arts Experiences

By Anne B. Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission. Published in Nashville Arts Magazine, October 2014

The Tennessee Arts Commission is currently accepting FY-2015 Student Ticket Subsidy (STS) Program applications and is looking forward to providing another year of arts experiences to public school students across the state. The STS Program gives students, many of whom attend Title I schools, the opportunity to learn from the arts, both inside and outside of the classroom. The program funds field trips to shows or exhibits as well as brings teaching artists into schools. In the past five years, over a half million students have participated.

This year, the Commission is excited to roll out a new aspect of the program. Activities supported by the Grant will now include artist residencies that last longer than one day, given that the residencies will also consist of a supplemental activity such as a field trip. The hope is to give students hands-on participation in an art form while also ensuring access to high quality professional arts and cultural experiences.

Last year, Dupont Elementary School chose to take students on a field trip to the Nashville Children’s Theatre where they saw the play Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. The program included pre-show and post-show activities in alignment with Common Core for the teacher to conduct with the class. Students then saw the show and eagerly became involved with both the characters and the art form itself, declaring the show to be, “better than television.”

Stratton Elementary took part in the Nashville Opera On Tour program and welcomed the performance of Billy Goats Gruff to the school. Teachers were provided with a guide to prepare students for the opera experience with basic facts and history about opera as well as activities that connected opera to classroom curriculum.

Smyrna West Alternative School took students to a matinee of Othello, put on by the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. Teachers were also provided with a guidebook that gave additional information on Shakespeare, this play in particular and lesson plans to prepare students for the performance.

“A first for some, the play exposed students to theatre of the highest caliber and demonstrated that with a little preparation students can appreciate, and even enjoy, Shakespeare,” says Smyrna teacher, Laura Schlesinger.