The Paramount Theatre

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Access to the Arts

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The Paramount Academy for the Arts partners with more than 40 nonprofits dedicated to Austin’s youth. We thus ensure that children from all backgrounds have access to the arts. Partners include Communities in Schools, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area, the Austin Children’s Shelter, and the Down Syndrome Society of Central Texas. The majority of these children would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend an event at the historic Paramount. Last year, we provided more than 1,300 complimentary tickets to children. One mother noted how her son, Nicolas, who attended The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, “had an Ah-ha! moment that day.” She continues: “I cannot pay enough ever for what you did for our son with autism.”

Join Our Access to the Arts Family!

If you are a non-profit organization in the Austin area whose population never has the opportunity to attend the live performing arts and are interested in becoming a participant of our program, please contact our Education and Outreach Director, Jennifer Luck at jluck@austintheatre.org.

Complete Program Description

Theatre staff and volunteers work with more than 40 area non-profit organizations to bring Austin-area youth and their families to the theatre at no cost to them. That’s what Access to the Arts is all about: equalizing disparity by providing a seat at the table.

All youth are entitled to artistic exposure, but are frequently denied this right because they are held back by poverty or special needs. Access and exposure to high quality artistic experiences is critical for positive youth development. We consider it our duty, as leaders in the Austin arts community and stewards of our mission, to provide this opportunity.

Perhaps the benefit we are most proud to offer these children is exclusive opportunities to meet the artist whenever possible. Our experience has demonstrated that the chance to meet the artists brings these shows to life and cultivates a deeper level of comprehension for our young patrons.

In addition to the natural benefits of arts exposure, many of our partners have found that tickets to our Access to the Arts programs serve as an effective incentive for behavior modification. Many of these children are going through difficult times of transition, and acting out is a common challenge among these youth. Using the theatre to inspire good behavior can create a positive cycle of improvement for many children. This incentive has replaced other types of rewards for several of our partners.

Pre-Show Craft Activity with the Paramount Academy for the Arts staff!

Before each of our Discovery Series shows for family audiences, our Access to the Arts partners and season subscribers participate in a pre-show craft activity that is thematically related to the show. For example, for Seussical all of the children involved got to make Dr. Seuss hats.

More About Skinny Pryor

Many years ago, a gentleman named Skinny Pryor owned the Grand Central Theater on Austin’s Congress Avenue. Skinny Pryor loved his own children and enjoyed being able to provide a good life for them. He had a soft spot in his heart for all children, but took a special shine to the kids who hung around outside his theater, hoping to get in but unable to afford a ticket.

Skinny found a creative solution to this problem. Believing in the importance of a work ethic, he gave each child who requested admission to his theater a simple task: “I’m really thirsty, so if you will go up the street and get me a glass of water, I’ll let you in to see the show.” And so they did. Kid after kid galloped down the street to the drugstore and asked for a glass of water, which they proudly displayed to Skinny as their ticket for admission. Over the years, hundreds of kids got inside Skinny’s theater for just a smile and a glass of water. Sometimes he would even feature “Freckle-Faced Kids’ Matinees.” Kids with at least five freckles would get in free. Skinny was said to have painted many a freckle on freckle-less faces!

In the spirit of Skinny Pryor, the Paramount & State Theatres open their doors to a philanthropic program called Skinny’s Gallery. This program enables the young people in the Greater Austin area to enjoy the wonder and thrill of the Paramount & State Theatres Kids Corner Series, Family Series and other special events free of charge!

The Paramount & Stateside Theatres’ dream is to expose thousands of young people each year to the finest entertainment in Central Texas, in our beautiful, historic theatre built in 1915.

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