As the education director at the Arts Partnership, Peggy Grandbois knows all about the importance of the arts in the Findlay community. As a mother and avid supporter of arts in education, Grandbois is even more aware of the importance of the arts for students.
Grandbois manages three educational programs that reach over 10,000 area youth per year, including the School Day Performances at Central Auditorium, Youtheatre and a professional development program that integrates the arts into educators’ curricula.
“Several hundred students per year are involved in our Youtheatre program, and over 1,000 people attend our performances,” said Grandbois. “We offer students in grades 1-12 the opportunity to participate in age-appropriate plays and musicals, workshops and a summer performing arts camp. We concentrate on providing students the opportunity to gain experience in all aspects of theatre – creative, performance and technical.”
Along with the hundreds of students Grandbois works with, she also enjoys spending time with her own son, who she says has always been active in the arts.
“We are fortunate to have many fine arts educators and activities in our area schools and community and he has benefitted from his involvement in these programs,” said Grandbois. “(Involvement in) the arts teaches more than just music, visual art, drama or dance — it teaches life skills such as creative thinking, problem solving, communication skills, teamwork and commitment … it helps build self-confidence and … (an) understanding of other cultures.”
Parents can get involved, too
Students are not the only ones who have the opportunity to get involved in the realm of arts and theatre — parents can benefit from participation as well. In Findlay, there are multiple opportunities for families to cultivate an interest in the arts, and Grandbois encourages everyone to do so.
Her advice for parents: let your student explore the arts.
“There are other organizations in our area such as The Findlay Art League that provide arts opportunities for area youth and adults. Take the time to learn about what is available in our area,” said Grandbois. “I have always found that I enjoy my son’s activities more if I am also involved.”
The Arts Partnership provides a plethora of opportunities for parents to make the experience a family affair. According to Grandbois, one of the most efficient ways to become involved is to volunteer with the program.
“The success of our programs … often depends on volunteers,” said Grandbois. “For example, parents of our Youtheatre students often help to construct and paint sets, sew costumes, apply make-up and plan cast and crew parties. On more than one occasion I have had a parent tell me that he or she enjoyed the opportunity to try something new.”
For Grandbois, the most enjoyable aspect of her job is the opportunity to work with kids and volunteers.
“I know we are providing opportunities for some students to experience something that they may never again get to experience.”
Youtheatre’s next event is a “comedy whodunit” called “Humpty Dumpty Is Missing! Or The Mysterious Case of the Fallen Egg.” It will feature approximately 30 area students in grades 1-5, giving them the opportunity to learn or enhance their on-stage and behind-the-scenes technical skills. Auditions are Jan. 13 and 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church.