For introducing the arts to 240,000 students and teachers
The ArtsBridge-funded Hensley Awards recognize high school theater.
The ArtsBridge-funded Hensley Awards recognize high school theater.

Photograph courtesy of ArtsBridge

“Conjunction Junction,” “Just a Bill,” and “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly,” may not qualify as high art, but when Schoolhouse Rock Live! tours next year, students from around metro Atlanta and the Southeast will be treated to the musical based on the iconic educational cartoons—as well as to the opera and ballet—through the ArtsBridge Foundation.

Since 2007, more than 240,000 students and teachers from across thirty counties in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina have been exposed to the arts thanks to ArtsBridge (formerly the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Foundation). ArtsBridge arranges for free or low-cost performances at the arts center in Cobb; underwrites transportation and tuition assistance for field trips; and organizes internships, tours, and Broadway master classes.

“We know early exposure to the arts can improve academic achievement, critical thinking, and problem solving—as well as enhance social skills,” says Natalie Barrow, director of arts education and community outreach. ArtsBridge lets students “experience educational arts programs tied to the school curriculum.”

One of the most successful undertakings is the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Academy. Well before Glee became a phenomenon, the program’s Shuler Hensley Awards began encouraging teen performers.