skip to Main Content

Arts for the Classroom

A Group Of Children Stand On Stage Holding Maracas. They Have Excited Expressions On Their Faces.

Arts for the Classroom

Since 2013, the Norton Center’s ACTS program has provided over 10,000 free or deeply discounted student matinee tickets to Kentucky students, ensuring area youth have the opportunity to explore and engage in high-caliber, professional arts experiences regardless of their financial resources. These opportunities are only possible through the generous financial support of individual donors, corporate sponsors and foundation grants.

Please consider giving a tax-deductible gift to the Norton Center ACTS program!

The arts broaden our students’ understanding of the world they live in. It allows them to see what is possible.

Jane Dewey’s students have watched circus performers swing from the rafters, listened to the soaring soundscapes of a Swedish hurdy-gurdy and accordion duo, learned the culture and moves of step dance and traveled around the cultural world while sitting in the Norton Center for the Arts. As Danville School’s Director of Arts Education, Dewey has been utilizing the Norton Center’s Arts for the Classroom Ticket Subsidy (ACTS) program since its beginning in 2013, and bringing students on field trips to Norton Center performances for even longer.

Kids sitting in a theatre, raising their hands

After Steve Hoffman took the helm as Norton Center executive director in 2010, he sat down to speak with teachers and superintendents across the region and quickly realized there was a need in our local community. The Norton Center had always offered field trips and educational experiences to K-12 students in the area, and teachers brought as many students as possible. Unfortunately, the reality was that not all students or schools could afford to attend these field trips due to funding and individual financial circumstances.

Hoffman applied for initial funding through the then-newly established Wilderness Trace Community Foundation through the Louisville Community Foundation to begin a subsidy for Kentucky students to relieve the financial burden of attending Norton Center performances.

“Research shows that the arts are an important part of every student’s developmental process,” said Hoffman. “Through experiencing the arts, children develop essential abstract and critical thinking skills, learn to be curious and ask important questions and understand how people in all parts of the world live and thrive.”

What resulted was ACTS: a program that provides K-12 public schools in Kentucky free and deeply discounted Norton Center student matinee tickets and activities. The program’s goal is simple: Ensure that children across the state can access life-changing arts experiences, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Little girl throwing a ball to a performer on the Newlin Hall stage

“The ACTS program has been hugely helpful for us,” said Dewey. “It’s grown so big and popular in our schools that I have to divvy up tickets so that everyone gets a chance to go to a performance. It would be wonderful to one day have enough support to send every single one of our students to see something at the Norton Center.”

A lifelong advocate for educational arts experiences, Kristina Grubbs, Boyle County Schools Gifted and Talented Coordinator, has witnessed firsthand the positive changes these experiences bring to her students.

“[Our students] are seeing the different cultures and learning to appreciate things different than what they’re used to,” said Grubbs. “They also learn about etiquette and respect; being respectful of others in the audience and gaining awareness of how they behave in public.”

Grubbs’ music students discovered the rhythms of Joropo when the Colombian band Cimarrón performed in Weisiger Theatre. Her dance students have witnessed Irish tap dance with a 21st-century twist when Velocity Irish Dance scuffled and shuffled across the Newlin Hall stage. Her students have dived into new genres and experiences that expand far beyond the borders of Boyle County, and they walk away with fresh insight each time.

“You never know who is going to connect with what,” said Dewey. “Not every single student will connect with something, but they do surprise you. The kid you thought would be squirrely the whole performance is the one sitting in rapt attention the entire time. They all take away something different – whether it be the music, the lighting or the Norton Center itself.”

Devine Carama performing on the Newlin Hall stage with an audience full of students.

The performing arts have proven time and time again to be rich experiences of learning and growth for children, opening up doors for cultural engagement, broadening mental horizons and inspiring creativity. As the curtains rise, students become active participants in educational journeys that go beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom. The lasting impact of early exposure to the arts extends far beyond the theater, offering students seeds of cultural appreciation and artistic inspiration to carry with them throughout their lives.

Because of the ongoing, generous support from the Corning Foundation, Trim Masters Inc., Deal Inc. and individual donors, the ACTS program has provided free student matinée tickets and enrichment programs to over 22,100 Kentucky students since 2013. This year, more students were able to attend free Norton Center performances than ever before – over 67 percent of students attending matinees received free tickets through ACTS in 2023, allowing over 3,100 students to explore and engage in arts experiences regardless of their financial circumstances.

ACTS is one of our favorite programs to support,” said Shawn Marcum, corporate fellow at Corning Incorporated. “The arts are considered value added in the STEM education to enhance creativity and inquiry. In our small communities, not all of the children have the opportunity to experience the shows offered at the Norton Center. The ACTS program enables us to expose a large demographic of students in our local area with this great opportunity.”

Hoffman’s goal is to see the ACTS program become a permanent endowment so that funding will always be readily available for all students to attend Norton Center student matinees and programs, regardless of financial need.

K-12 students smiling and cheering in the Norton Center lobby

“I hear from so many adults who remember attending or engaging in cultural experiences as a child, which became ‘ah-ha’ moments guiding them throughout their lives and their careers,” Hoffman said. “We never know what program might spark such a moment in children attending these performances. But we do know that if we do not provide these cultural outlets, those ah-ha moments would be fewer.

“It is so easy to support the ACTS program and help ensure well-rounded and positive learning experiences. Giving to the ACTS fund directly correlates to children having memorable learning experiences about our world that guide them through their own lives, whatever paths they choose to follow.”

Related Posts

Patrick Kagan-Moore looks off-camera. Standing in front of a red backdrop

Q&A with Patrick Kagan-Moore

For over three decades, Professor of Theatre Patrick Kagan-Moore has been a transformative force within the Centre College…

Read more
Teddy Abrams conducting the Louisville Orchestra

In Harmony in Boyle County

An ordinary Friday in Danville turned into a celebration of community, culture and collaboration when the Louisville Orchestra…

Read more
Six actors perform This Girl Laughs on the Weisiger Theatre stage. Two sit in the foreground, one stands in the middle of the stage with their arms out, and two sit in the background.

From Script to Spotlight

A Theatre at Centre Retrospective

Read more
Back To Top