JANESVILLE—Jim McCulloch has yet to see a child regress.
McCulloch has been the education and outreach coordinator for the Janesville Performing Arts Center for three years. In that time, he has watched many young performers grow into their artistic skills as well as their self-confidence.
“You can see them grow as a person, and that is really fulfilling and rewarding,” he said.
Many of those students will perform Tuesday, Nov. 20, in JPAC’s Music and Drama Festival—a showcase of choir and drama performances from students in the center’s music and drama classes.
The students work throughout the semester to prepare for the festival, which is held in fall and spring for each semester of classes, McCulloch said.
The choir students will perform a medley of songs with an animal theme, including a rendition of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”
The choir comprises 30 students that range in age from third grade to seniors in high school, McCulloch said.
The program’s drama students will perform an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” McCulloch added.
Drama students range in age from third to eighth grade. McCulloch said it’s more difficult to retain high school students because many opt to participate in high school drama programs.
Performing in front of a live audience can boost a child’s self-esteem and teach him or her how to speak in front of people, McCulloch said.
The performing arts center’s education and outreach program is relatively new, having been around for only about four years, he said.
Having the program and subsequent youth classes for a few years has allowed the center’s staff to watch kids grow and continue to build on their skills as they return each semester, McCulloch said.
“I have yet to see a child go backwards,” he said. “Once you crack through that shell, it is amazing what comes out.”
The classes have continued to increase in size each year. McCulloch believes they will eventually have to split the festivals into separate events for choir and drama.
The education and outreach program has allowed JPAC to reach many new people who had never been to the center before, McCulloch said.
Youth programs bring in families that would not go to arts events, he said. Once they come to the center that first time, they are more likely to return for other productions, McCulloch said.