Stage One Children’s Theatre announced it will provide free tickets to students for field trips next season.
Under a new program called Play it Forward, the theater will be providing free tickets for kindergartners and first graders on field trips to attend a performance in the fall and for fifth and sixth graders in the spring.
Peter Holloway is Stage One’s producing artistic director.
“Each grade level represents about 15-16,000 kids,” he says. “So between those four levels, you’re talking somewhere of 60 to 79,000 kids.”
Holloway says this program comes in part through underwriting by area companies and foundations.
He says Stage One started the program this after it cut its budget by more than 40 percent over the last 18 months, a move that included closing it scene and costume shop in December.
Holloway says the program has already gotten some solid support from a handful of underwriters.
“The response from potential funders has been great,” he says, “because who doesn’t want to hear the story of — We’ve cut way back on our expenses. We’ve really reduced our overhead, but we’ve figured out simultaneously how to serve a lot more kids.”
Holloway says the program could double attendance numbers for the 64-year-old theater.
Holloway says the drastic cuts Stage One has made to its budget has helped make it possible to reduce costs for schools and students.
“Our current cost for a student to come on a field trip is $7.75,” he says. “So, we’re going to eliminate that amount of revenue, earned income. So, we have to counterbalance that with something. But we realized with all the other savings that we were pulling out of the other side that we didn’t have to raise that much money to make it OK for us to give up that earned income.”
Holloway says Stage One wants to expand this no-cost access to other grades in the future.