The announcement was made by ETF President Julie Cohen Theobald September 23 at the Foundation’s fourth annual New York benefit at Feinstein’s/54 Below, which, as previously announced, honored Music Theatre International co-chairman Freddie Gershon and NYC Department of Education’s former Senior Manager for Arts Education Dr. Sharon Dunn with the inaugural Broadway Back to School Award.
JumpStart aims to build theatre programs in middle schools that previously had none. Selected schools, determined by an application process, receive funds, materials, and training to produce their first full-scale musical production; support continues for three years as the schools prepare to self-sustain the theatre programs.
The program was piloted in 2015 in Cincinnati before moving to San Diego and St. Louis. It will also head to Atlantic in the 2019–2020 academic year through a partnership with Alliance Theatre.
Seller’s contribution will go towards funding the program in an additional city in 2019. During the ceremony, Theobald thanked the Tony winner, saying, “On a night where we celebrate Broadway giving back to school theatre, it means so much to receive this support from such a visionary Broadway producer. I’ve seen the transformative impact of JumpStart Theatre in the most underserved communities in the country, and this gift will change many lives for the better.”
The evening features performances from a variety of musical theatre artists, including star of Broadway’s upcoming The Prom Caitlin Kinnunen, Head Over Heels’ Bonnie Milligan, and 2018 Jimmy Award winner Renee Rapp.