Central peninsula gets first dibs on arts program

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2001

The Alaska Children's Institute for the Performing Arts gave area children the first shot at its new drama program.

According to the nonprofit's board president, Joe Rizzo, the mission of the organization is to deliver performing arts opportunities, through workshops, to communities in Alaska that don't otherwise have them available.

Before taking the group of five of Rizzo's former high school students on the road, they wanted to try out the workshops closer to home first.

"We wanted to try it out here and find the pitfalls," he said.

The staff includes Alden Ford of Nikiski,

Derek Kirschner, Daniel Kirschner, Tammie Johnson and Annie Olson, all of Wrangell. The group of college students returned to Alaska for the summer to teach drama skills to kids ages 8 to 16.

They have been working with groups from Kenai and Sterling this week. Workshops were held each day in both communities and will continue through Tuesday.

With a turnout of more than 20 kids in each community, Rizzo said he is happy with the first workshops.

"Forty-five kids is a pretty good turnout with all there is here," he said.

Both groups were assigned roles and will each hold an adapted performance of "The Little Princess" next week for parents.

Rizzo said he and the staff have taught the kids drama skills by using the production as a vehicle. Most of the kids have had some acting experience.

With the experience Rizzo and his staff gained by holding the program on the peninsula, he said future communities would have to want the program to be held in their community to make it successful.

He said in future years, communities will need to apply to the program. If the area meets the requirements set by the group, ACI will then seek sponsors in the communities.

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