ESCONDIDO–The “Center Stage” program at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido doesn’t just offer an entertaining excursion for local students; it is truly an educational and engaging experience for the youngsters who participate.
More than just a performing arts venue, the Center’s mission is also firmly rooted in education. Through its Education department, the Center offers a bevy of enlightening and informative programs for students, teachers and the general public, including Educators’ Night Out, teacher workshops, master classes both on and off campus, and various field trip opportunities featuring hands-on activities for youth.
Another program is the “Center Stage” series, which introduces students to live theater through weekday matinee performances that connect to a variety of curriculum areas– such as history, literature, science and, of course, music and dance– and even important topics like good decision-making and the perils of substance abuse.
Each performance is geared toward specific age levels, from kindergarten through high school. Some shows are more narrowly focused while others can be enjoyed and appreciated by all grades. But this season’s series includes something for everyone and all regional school groups are welcome, including home-schooled students.
A standards-based Educators’ Guide is provided to teachers at no charge and includes pre- and post-show activities, historical content, and other resources to explore with their students. All seats are $4.
It is the generosity of the McBeth Foundation that makes “Center Stage” possible. The foundation donated $50,000 to the Center this season, to be shared between the Education department’s “Center Stage” and “My Story” programs.
“Barbara (McBeth) Woodruff, the founder, was also an artist and a philanthropist and she wanted to leave a legacy. She definitely had a vision for making an impact in the community, and her definition of ‘community’ is basically Southern California,” explained Norm Timmins, who sits on the board of directors for the McBeth Foundation. “What was closest to her heart as an artist were, clearly, programs directed to and for artists and also programs directed toward children and education.”
While Woodruff passed in 2007, the foundation continues, in accordance with her vision, to make meaningful grants for the benefit of animal welfare, the environment, the arts, children, health sciences and communications.
The performance is recommended for grades 3-12.