Impact Broadway, a socially and technology driven youth audience development program, works to familiarize students with the theater and entertainment industries and focuses on the importance of young minority audiences. Throughout May and June, the program helped make it possible for 200 high school students from the five New York City boroughs to see “Godspell” on Broadway.
Youth Impact Broadway Project, Inc. engages African-American and Latino students in the Broadway experience through the facilitation of outings to Broadway and off-Broadway shows. Students participate in historical and cultural events and post-and pre-show discussions with the goal of helping students to see themselves as meaningful participants and potential leaders in the theater and entertainment industries.
The program also offers an online platform, newsletter, in-school activities, and outer-borough performance outings. Impact Broadway has partnered with shows like “In the Heights,” “A Free Man of Color,” “West Side Story,” “Fela!” “Memphis,” “The Lion King,” “Stick Fly,” and “Brazil, Brazil.”
According to BroadwayWorld.com, Ken Davenport of Davenport Theatrical Enterprises and other donors helped raise more than $9,000 toward “Godspell” tickets so that students could get a chance to see the show before its June closing. The outing included a meet-and-greet with star Corbin Bleu.
“My students were excited about the ‘Godspell’ performance,” Brenda Glasse, advisor for High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture, told BroadwayWorld.com. “The interaction between the audience and the cast members, the young cast, and the creativity of the dancing and singing was very powerful and had them mesmerized.”
Impact Broadway has received their core funding from the NYC Theater Sub-district Initiative, but since the end of their two-year grant, they now solicit support from the Broadway community and will launch a fundraising campaign before the end of the summer. The program also partners with arts organizations including the Brooklyn Center for the Arts, Harlem Stage, Pregones Theatre, and Queens Theatre in the Park.
The program, which is preparing to enter its fourth season in September, was founded in 2009 by Donna Walker-Kuhne and Cherine Anderson and has engaged 750 students in the Broadway experience.
In addition to the Broadway activities, students also receive a discount card to be used for nearby restaurants and attractions as another incentive to visit a Broadway show. According to Davenport, the Impact Broadway program seems to help encourage students to take in a show with their families and does have an impact on future ticket sales, he said in a recent email to TicketNews.
“Any organization that is dedicated to getting more young people to the theater deserves the support of the industry,” Davenport told TicketNews. “Because young people are the future of our industry,” he added.