Showcasing the Arts

YouTube video - Education Award, RiverPark Center, Inc.
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2017 Governor's Awards in the Arts:
Education Award



Owensboro, Ky.



RiverPark Center RiverPark Center

Situated on the bank of the Ohio River, Owensboro’s RiverPark Center, which opened in 1992, has been a regional hub for cultural entertainment for 25 years, as well as being the artistic home for local ensembles and theater companies, like the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, Owensboro Dance Theatre, Back Alley Musicals and Friday After 5.

Equal to its role as an entertainment venue is its mission of educating youth throughout the region about the performing arts and the people who bring performances to life both on stage and behind the scenes. In its 25-year history, RiverPark Center has served more than 800,000 youth through its arts education programs.

The center’s Arts Teach Kids program is the most popular arts education avenue RiverPark Center offers, and serves a 20-county region. The program annually makes available more than 20 live theater performances to introduce students to diverse educational topics, including nationally touring productions and offerings from local groups.

Arts in the A.M. is a RiverPark Center initiative for second- through fifth-grade students introducing them to a broad range of artistic disciplines associated with stage performances – visual art, music, dance and theater. It also incorporates a backstage tour to expose students to the technical side of bringing productions to life.

For fifth-graders, the center offers Students on Stage, a program that teaches youth the basics of drama, improvisation, storytelling and technical aspects of live theater like lighting and sound.

RiverPark Center’s influence on arts education is not only felt in the primary and secondary schools, but in higher education as well. The center was instrumental in coordinating efforts to create a joint bachelor of arts degree in theater, administered collaboratively by Owensboro’s three institutions of higher education: Brescia University, Kentucky Wesleyan College and Owensboro Community and Technical College. The collaboration for this degree program, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, is unprecedented. Students in the program take classes at each of the colleges where they learn the nuts and bolts of mounting a production and use RiverPark Center as their practical classroom.

“Independently, none of the participating institutions would have been able to provide this outstanding opportunity to the arts in our area of the commonwealth,” wrote Scott Williams, OCTC president, and Julia Ledford, OCTC associate dean and head of humanities and fine arts in a joint statement. “Together, under the leadership of RiverPark Center with the cooperation of the staff and the ability to utilize their expertise and facilities, [the three universities] have collaborated to offer a certificate in technical theatre, an Associate in Fine Arts in Theatre and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre.”




Page last updated: January 19, 2018
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