This year marks the 30th anniversary of SXSW, with many of those years having utilized the Paramount and Stateside Theatres as iconic venues for both film and music. What most people don’t know, is that our Theatres also serve an entirely different audience throughout each year: our youth. In fact, it wasn’t until Janet Pierson, Head of SXSW Film, visited a group of Youth Theatre Company students in Summer 2014, that she was delighted to learn about the wide array of exciting offerings for young people at the Theatres. Later, with the help of Ron Reed, Executive Producer of the SXSWedu conference and festival and Paramount Education & Outreach Director, Jennifer Luck, we were finally able to bring the two entities together for the betterment of arts education. The 2016 SXSWedu conference came to an end on Thursday March 10th, but we are thrilled to share some amazing moments from the Paramount Academy for the Arts debut appearance the conference.
SXSWedu offered an Arts track to the conference this year, which opened the door for the Paramount Academy for the Arts to submit panels, presentations and workshops. Jennifer Luck brought together an esteemed panel to discuss the essentialness of Arts Education in our schools. The panel, Arts Education: Nothing Elective About It, was moderated by Luck, and included Lakita Edwards (Arts Education Specialist/Literature & Arts Education Division with the National Endowment for the Arts), Jessica Handrik (PreK – 12 & Higher Education Director at Lincoln Center Education), and Dr. Brent Hasty (Executive Director of Austin-based MindPOP). The tremendous turn-out showed how hungry educators are to explore new strategies to help change what learning looks and feels like in our classrooms across the country. The Paramount Academy for the Arts is making great strides in the areas of Literacy and STEM education and it was a true pleasure to sit alongside national colleagues who are validating the work the theatre is doing here in Austin.
Additionally, Paramount Academy for the Arts with partner, Science in a Suitcase facilitated a summit workshop showcasing the new roboARTS program. roboARTS is a new partnership that merges the performing arts and creative writing process with robotics and the engineering design process. Trust us, it ROCKS! The SXSWedu Summit, Robots, Robots, Everywhere: The Musical was a HUGE success. The three-hour workshop took participants through the process of writing original stories, creating songs based on those stories, then building, programming, and costuming robots to perform the original material. A group of Lamar Middle School & Fine Arts Academy students contributed as “Master Mentors,” a real highlight of the session. These students are currently enrolled in the roboARTS club at Lamar Middle School and many participated in Paramount’s 2015 Arts & Robotics summer camp pilot. These incredible students took the lead, showing adult conference-goers how you dive into something without any self-doubt, and simply create, play and collaborate!
The 2016 roboARTS summer camp will be offered this summer for any student going into 6th though 9th grade, and interested in robotics and/or the performing arts. Slots are going fast, so don’t miss a chance for the middle-schooler in your life to experience this unique opportunity that culminates with a performance on the Stateside at the Paramount stage! Visit the Summer Camps page for dates, more information and to register now.
Finally, the Theatres were able to screen three, important and inspiring films in coordination with the film component of SXSWedu. Both Ron Reed and Chandler Nunez helped program powerful documentaries like He Named Me Malala, CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap, and The Hunting Ground. These films were not only a highlight of the festival, but it was an honor to have them screened at Stateside at the Paramount.
Overall, the entire experience was a success, and Paramount Academy for the Arts looks forward to future partnership and participation in the years to come!Tags: austin, education, panel, paramount theatre, roboarts, school, stem, students, summer camp, sxsw, sxswedu, youth theatre
This post was written by Maica Jordan