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Not Just For Fun

WAC workshops teach kids valuable skills

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Northwest Arkansas teens with a penchant for the performing arts -- be it on or off the stage -- are in luck.

The Walton Arts Center is offering two unusual educational experiences this summer tailored especially for them. The Second City Improv/Sketch Workshop (July 9-20) is a chance for those ages 15 to 18 to learn the basics of the form from the theater company famous for it. Spotlight on Arts Presenting (July 16-20) will offer youth in grades nine through 12 a chance to see what it's like working behind the scenes at a busy theater.

FAQ

Spotlight On Arts Presenting

WHEN — 1 p.m.-5:30 p.m. July 16-20

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $200 (some scholarships are available)

INFO — 571-2766

FYI — The deadline for the Second City workshops has passed, but students in grades 9-12 have until July 9 to register for the Spotlight on Arts Presenting workshop.

"[Working for a theater] was never something that was discussed on career day, so to start that conversation now [with the Arts Presenting workshop] is really interesting to me," says Meghan Foehl, education specialist for the WAC. "You can go into any degree field and end up at a nonprofit that's doing really fun work and helping the community, but we don't always talk about that as an opportunity."

Foehl says that a number of WAC departments will participate.

"Each department is kind of in charge of putting together their own presentation and some kind of activity for the kids to be involved in," she says. "Our programming team is talking about presenting on what they do and then giving the kids a mock negotiation session, where the kids have specific items that they want out of the person, and they have to negotiate to get what they want."

Because of a new partnership, Foehl says that those students who participate will have a head start with volunteering with the Faulkner Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas.

"When we first announced it, Nicole Cotton [Leachman] at Faulkner reached out and was very excited," she says. "We found a way to partner with them, and the students that participate in our program will be able to volunteer with Faulkner year-round. She wanted to show them that, after high school, there was a way to continue that training and give these students a little bit of a background on what it takes to run a performing arts center."

Meanwhile, teens who prefer the spotlight will get a rare chance to study with a professional from the Chicago-based improv company The Second City. Jeff Poole is the program head for kids and teens workshops for the well-known performance troupe and training center. He says the camps will closely resemble the classes the organization provides in Chicago -- intensive training in improv and sketch comedy through which the students will create a 50-minute improv show that they will perform at the end of the two weeks.

"One of the great things about improv is, it's perfect for loud kids, as well as quiet kids," says Poole. "It teaches loud kids when to be quiet and quiet kids when to speak up."

Like Foehl, Poole thinks this kind of arts training has real-world applications.

"Improv skills are life skills," he says. "If you embrace that improv 'Say yes' mentality, you get super ideas and amazing collaborations that just can't happen if you don't have that mentality."

NAN What's Up on 07/06/2018

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