Point of View

Funding Arts Network Awards Grant
May 11, 2009, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Awards and Recognition

The Funding Arts Network awarded the Adrienne Arsht Center a $15,000 grant for their 2010 Rock Odyssey education program last week at the FAN annual awards luncheon. The 2010 education program, Rock Odyssey, will bring every fifth grader in Miami-Dade County to the Center, free of charge, to experience this live production. The impact of Rock Odyssey in the South Florida community is significant, particularly now, when the Miami-Dade County Public School budget has been dramatically cut and there is little to no money for school-sponsored field trips and activities. 

The Adrienne Arsht Center Development staff and its director of education, Deanna Costa, attended the FAN luncheon event. “The Adrienne Arsht Center hopes the grant award for Rock Odyssey is the first of several in support of what we hope will be an annual education program that will impact over 24,000 Miami-Dade County students in each grade level served every year,” says Costa. 

Rock Odyssey is an innovative musical remake of the Homer classic, chronicling the epic journey in an accessible and theatrical rock opera style.  Last month, the Knight Foundation also selected Rock Odyssey as one of 45 finalists out of more than 1,500 applicants to their Knight Arts Challenge, designed to bring together South Florida’s diverse community through the arts. The Center hopes to be among the winners announced in the fall. 

Rock Odyssey performances will premiere in the spring of 2010 in the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall. With the support of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the Center will present approximately 14 school performances and one performance open to the public, ensuring that all 24,000 Miami-Dade County fifth graders visit the Adrienne Arsht Center to experience the live theatrical performance of Rock Odyssey.
Created by award-winning writers, composers, and lyricists from Broadway, film, and television, the high quality of Rock Odyssey exemplifies the Adrienne Arsht Center’s commitment to excellence in educational children’s theater. The professional cast, elaborate costuming, and live music are certain to create a memorable theatrical experience for children and adults alike, fostering an interest in the arts for our future generations. A professional team of educators has created a specially designed curriculum and lesson plans related to the show’s content, covering a wide variety of academic subjects using the theater experience as a launching point for addressing Florida’s K – 12 Sunshine State Standards.

This project allows the Center to serve thousands of students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience live professional performing arts. Research has shown that early exposure to the performing arts improves a child’s self-esteem, academic achievement, and ability to interact with others. According to ongoing studies by University of California- Irvine physicist Gordon Shaw, children exposed to the performing arts perform substantially better on tests, scoring an average of three points higher than their counterparts, and leads to better math skills later in life.

The Center is committed to giving students more than a field trip by creating a rich arts experience that imparts knowledge. ”Watching an engaging performance in addition to using the pre- and post-show curriculum materials provides a mutli-layered approach to learning that contributes to a deeper understanding of the material,” Costa says. “Besides the problem-solving, reasoning, and creative thinking skills this project promotes, students are also introduced to a means of self expression.” The ultimate outcome of Rock Odyssey is to teach, inspire, and enrich young people through active learning opportunities within the performing arts, both in the concert hall and in the classroom. 

The Adrienne Arsht Center hopes to expand this pilot program and bring students at least three times over the course of their academic career from three benchmark grades (fifth, seventh and ninth), serving over 75,000 MDCPS students annually.

In addtition to the award for Rock Odyssey, Funding Arts Network presented $200,000 in grant awards to twenty-two arts organizations on May 5.  Dennis Scholl, the new program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation presented the prestigious $50,000 Knight Foundation New Work Award to Diaspora’s Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator. Accepting the award was Adrienne Arsht Center Trust Board Member Rosie Gordon-Wallace, director of the Diaspora Vibe Gallery. Ms. Gordon-Wallace is a wonderful example of how Adrienne Arsht Center board members are making an impact in the community by enhancing the cultural landscape of South Florida. 

Through projects like Rock Odyssey, the Center continues to play a vital role in enriching the arts experiences in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The Adrienne Arsht Center will continue to provide South Florida with mission-driven initiatives that reach out and appeal to the diverse members of the community and engage children through performances, education and outreach.


(Left to Right) Deanna Costa, Rachel Blechman, Rosie Gordon-Wallace, Giselle Ferro. Photo by Munisha Underhill

(Left to Right) Deanna Costa, Rachel Blechman, Rosie Gordon-Wallace, Giselle Ferro. Photo by Munisha Underhill


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