NASHVILLE, TN — Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) announces the seven new schools – five in Nashville and two in Bedford County – selected to participate in the 2018-19 Disney Musicals in Schools program, an initiative developed by Disney Theatrical Productions to create sustainable theater programs in under-resourced elementary schools.

For the first time, the after-school theater program is expanding beyond Metro Nashville Public Schools to serve students and educators in rural Tennessee communities. Eakin Elementary School and Learning Way Elementary School, both in Shelbyville, have been selected to launch the outreach initiative in Bedford County Schools, funded by a grant from Disney Theatrical Productions to expand the program into rural settings.

The newly selected Metro schools are Amqui Elementary School, Charlotte Park Elementary School, Eagle View Elementary School, Jones Paideia Magnet Elementary School and H.G. Hill Middle School.

This is the eighth year of the partnership between Disney Theatrical Productions, Metro Nashville Public Schools and TPAC since the first pilot outside of New York City was launched here in 2011. The CMA Foundation has provided financial support for the local program since 2013.

“At the CMA Foundation, we continue to look for partners who are finding new and unique ways to reach students and engage them with music in school,” says Tiffany Kerns, Executive Director of CMA Foundation. “We see the impact that Disney Musicals In Schools creates through their incredible program as not just an entry point for students who may not have found their voice yet, but also as a way to help with personal expression, build self-confidence and promote collaboration and leadership – all extremely valuable life skills. This program allows all students the opportunity to shine on stage, and we are proud to be able to help them expand, grow and reach more and more students.”

The selected schools will begin a 17-week musical theater residency in January. Each school will receive performance rights, education support materials and guidance from two TPAC teaching artists. The program also features a professional development focus, through which participating school teachers partner with teaching artists to learn how to produce, direct, choreograph and music direct, culminating in their first 30-minute Disney KIDS musical at their school.

As a capstone to the experience, TPAC will host a Student Share Celebration in which each school performs one number from their show on stage at TPAC’s Jackson Hall for an audience of students, teachers, family, and community members.

“All of our new schools are excited about their opportunity to take part in the program and eager to produce their own musicals with support from Disney Theatrical Productions and TPAC,” said Kristin Horsley, TPAC Senior Director of Education Outreach.

     During the previous seven years, 40 Metro Nashville Public Schools have successfully participated in the program, with 5,576 students and nearly 200teachers working together to create a culture of musical theater at their schools.

Using the unique world of musical theater, Disney Musicals in Schools helps to foster positive relationships between students, faculty, staff, parents and the community. Students and teachers work in teams, developing a wide spectrum of skills needed when producing a piece of musical theater, including critical thinking, problem-solving, ensemble building, communication, self-confidence and interpersonal skills.

Disney Musicals in Schools was launched in 2010 in response to Disney Theatrical Productions’ concern that under-resourced public elementary schools were not afforded equitable access to the arts. After successfully offering the program in New York City schools, Disney Theatrical Productions began partnering with organizations in other communities across the United States.

Disney KIDS musicals, created in partnership with Music Theatre International (MTI), are 30-minute musicals designed for elementary school performers and have been adapted from the classic Disney films 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, The Aristocats, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, and Winnie the Pooh.