The Alys Stephens Center Arts in Action program is expanding its education and outreach to area youth with new programs for the 2008-09 academic year.

The Alys Stephens Center Arts in Action program is expanding its education and outreach for the coming year, continuing its mission to make the performing arts accessible to the broadest possible audience.

The Rhythms of the Earth Festival and an expanded Meet the Artists on the Road Series are some of the changes for the coming year, says Kimberly Kirklin, education director of Arts in Action.

“Our mission is to make the performing arts accessible to the broadest possible audience through extensive arts-education programs, classes and events designed to cultivate an understanding and appreciation for the arts,” Kirklin says. “We’re continuing to build on that tradition by expanding these programs and adding new ones.”

The Rhythms of the Earth Festival is a hands-on event in which children can participate in a variety of activities, including making crafts and playing musical instruments, preparing food dishes using organic fruits and vegetables and learning about local wildlife and plants.

The festival is Sunday, Sept. 21 at noon in the ASC Haskell Courtyard. Participants will experience interactive performances by many local artists, including the Nathifa Dance Company, John Scalici and the Get Rhythm performing ensemble, Celtic band Hooley and kids entertainer and singer/songwriter Charles Tortorici.

“There also will be vendors selling healthy and whole foods and a lecture/demonstration area where local groups can perform or talk about issues important to their organization,” Kirklin says. “We really think this will be a unique festival that will provide a basis for learning and growing for children and adults.”

Tickets for the event are $10 for adults and $7 for children.

Other additions and highlights for the upcoming year include:

Martin Hames Arts Mentoring Program
This is the sixth year the Martin Hames program will invite middle- and high-school students to attend a series of performances in a group setting and give them the opportunity to discuss them afterward. The free program has featured Patty Austin and the Count Basie Orchestra, Cirque Works Birdhouse Factory and violinist Rachel Lee.

“We try to have a group of artists from different genres, including jazz, classical, theatre and world music, so the students get a taste for as many different kinds of performing arts as possible,” Kirklin says. “The talk-back discussion following the performance always is well received. They get a chance to meet the artist and discuss their craft. They can share ideas, values and feelings, and it encourages critical thinking.”

Meet the Artist Series
The Meet the Artist Series will send two visiting ASC acts into local schools to perform.

The Harlem String Quartet highlights the work of minority composers to advance diversity in classical music while engaging young audiences through the discovery and presentation of a varied repertoire. The string quartet will perform at one local school in addition to its appearance at the ASC.

The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre has played to great acclaim for audiences of all ages on tours to Europe, Asia and 27 states and will be available for two in-school performances.

Local schools can apply to be chosen for the performances by contacting Kirklin at or 934-0862.

Word of Mouth with Charles Tortorici
Tortorici offers an interactive 30- to 60-minute performance that gives children in grades 3-7 a taste of all things literary. Tortorici educates and entertains students with his original poetry, stories and songs with a focus on the environment.

His original songs topics range from the importance of rivers to teaching basic elements of music to how poetry can be a form of self-expression.

Other events
Arts in Action also will present its annual Acting Out Theatre Workshop and Kids on Stage Summer Drama Camp. Both are for children ages 8-14.

Poet’s Corner Poetry Workshop with Sharrif Simmons will provide a comprehensive series of creative writing programs for children in grades 5-12. The interactive program focuses on school-age children and students in at-risk programs with special needs.

The final Kids Club event for the 2008-09 year will be “Alice’s Even Bigger Tea Party” — an expanded version of 2007’s “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.”
“We’re going to have more characters, better costumes, more music and more elaborate sets,” Kirklin says. “It also will play in the Sirote Theater, which should be exciting for the cast, crew and the students.”

Visit to learn more about the Arts in Action programs, or contact Kirklin at or 934-0862 to learn more about getting your child’s school involved in the programs.