Image from First Stage's Theater Education programming

Community Partnership Program

Recognizing the inherent value in participating in and experiencing theater, First Stage works to ensure that all of our programming is accessible to our community—through our Community Partnership Program.

The Community Partnership Program began in 2004, thanks to the generosity of Richard S. Burke and continued support of the Burke Foundation. Since then, the Community Partnership Program (CPP) has been removing barriers and ensuring access to our transformative theater experiences for Milwaukee’s marginalized youth and families.

This season, CPP will continue to remove barriers (including the inability to gather people in this time), and ensure access in the following ways:

Theater Productions

First Stage provides more than 2,000 discounted and free tickets during a typical season to remove financial limitations that inhibit families and community organizations from attending our performances.

  • Pay What You Choose Theater Performances
  • First Stage for $5 Tickets
  • First Stage also provides free and discounted tickets to for community organizations.
  • In addition to these in-person offerings, First Stage provides flexible pricing options for our ticketed virtual performances, as well as virtual productions that are free to stream. Complimentary streaming memberships for our virtual theater performances are also offered.

Theater Academy classes

First Stage Theater Academy maintains a strong commitment to making our classes available to all students, regardless of financial circumstances. In a typical season, First Stages provides more than $120,000 in financial aid awards to nearly 300 young people.

Family Partnership Program

  • Provides a wide range of assistance to many families—including need-based financial aid, internship opportunities, transportation assistance as needed, and other logistical support (Academy t-shirts and nutritional snacks).
  • Financial aid awards are based on each student’s unique family and financial situation, Federal Adjusted Income, and past experiences with the Academy. Thanks to the community’s support of this program, First Stage has never turned away a student from our classes due to the inability to pay.
  • First Stage also offers a wide-range of family programming related to our theater productions through the Family Partnership Program—including backstage tours, pre-show workshops and invitations to attend our preview performances for free.

Theater in Education Programming

First Stage offers highly-subsidized and free education programming for City of Milwaukee schools that enrich the core curriculum through arts-integrated lessons. During a typical season, First Stage serves more than 5,000 students with our CPP education programs.

  • School Membership Package: First Stage developed a library of pre-recorded Arts-Integrated and Early Literacy Workshops with new curriculum to be used independent of having a teaching artist physically present in the classroom. First Stage provide schools with unlimited access to these workshops during the school year through our School Membership Package.
  • Virtual Field Trips: Allows educators to reserve streaming access to one of our virtual Theater Productions for one low rate for their school or classroom. All Virtual Field Trips are paired with the educator’s choice of select Arts-Integrated Workshops, for free.

First Stage will continue offering our School Membership Package and Virtual Field Trips; however, as soon as schools are comfortable with outside educators visiting their classrooms, First Stage is more than eager to start teaching in person again.

When it is safe to do so, First Stage will provide the programming we offered prior to the pandemic. Those programs include, but are not limited to:

Literacy Programming

Milwaukee’s elementary students are struggling to meet proficient literacy levels. First Stage’s Literacy Programming strives to address this critical shortfall by utilizing arts-integrated methods to enhance students’ language comprehension skills. Programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Literacy Plus, an eight-week residency that ignites students’ love of reading by connecting our Theater Productions with the English Language Arts curriculum.
  • Little Actors, a six-week residency for younger children that uses stories as a springboard for learning.

The Partnership Program

This four-week residency helps students develop strong personal connections to the themes explored during a First Stage Theater Production and utilizes their theater experience as a springboard for an integrated learning experience.

Whether First Stage teaching artists are visiting schools virtually or in-person, our education programming will continue to support in-school learning. Through CPP, First Stage will provide our School Membership Package, Virtual Field Trips, and in-person programming at a highly-subsidized rate to Milwaukee schools. With grant funding, First Stage will also offer our virtual and in-person programming for free to our partner schools located within low-income Milwaukee neighborhoods

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