Reimagining the Goodman’s education and engagement programming for a virtual world—and a virtual fundraiser.
By Daryn Robinson
As you might have read in the November issue of NEXT, Goodman Theatre’s education and engagement programs help maintain connections between the theater and students, teachers, lifelong learners and other art-lovers in our Chicagoland community. In order to support these many programs, the generosity of individual donors and institutional sponsors is essential. This is why the Goodman’s annual Education and Engagement fundraiser is vital.
Last February, guests were welcomed to the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in downtown Chicago for an afternoon of entertainment and awareness raising, all in support of the important work done by the Goodman’s Education and Engagement department. Hosted by Goodman Trustee and Emmy Award-winning journalist and Weekday Edition co-anchor of NBC News 5 Today Zoraida Sambolin, the event featured speeches from community partners and Artistic Director Robert Falls, a performance from A Christmas Carol alum Ariana Burks and an interview with Emmy Award-winning actor, producer, and star of NBC’s Will & Grace, Sean Hayes.
In the spirit of continuing this fantastic event while we can’t be together, this year, on February 22, the Goodman Theatre Education Event is going completely online and will feature celebrity guests, engaging performances and more. Goodman Trustee Zoraida Sambolin returns this year, swapping out her role as event emcee for the role of co-chair. Additional co-chairs include Trustee Loretta Cooney and Women’s Board members Jacquelyn Robinson and Carole Wood.
“I’ve attended many of the Education luncheons and it’s always a fun, successful and eye-opening event,” says event co-chair Jacquelyn Robinson. “They’ve introduced us to actors, professors, visionaries in the theater, as well as to the amazing young people whose lives the programs have impacted. So when asked to co-chair this event, of course I was excited to do so!”
Continuing the education and engagement programming remotely has proven to be an essential offering to our Chicagoland community during these difficult times. “These programs are important now, more than ever, because we need increased understanding and the sharing of perspectives. We need humanity now more than ever,” Robinson says. “With so many forces pulling us apart, we need art that allows us to share our stories and appreciate those of others. Theater provides a perfect medium for the sharing of stories and perspectives and our Education and Engagement programs expand the reach and the impact of theater.”
Loretta Cooney adds that, “outreach programs are really important now in giving exposure and voices to our youth.” In past seasons, Loretta’s favorite aspect of the Goodman’s programs was providing theatre tickets to students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to experience theatre. While we cannot join together in the theater right now, students across the city have still been able to engage with the performing arts by streaming Goodman productions like A Christmas Carol—An Audio Play and School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play and engaging with production study guides produced by the Education Department.
At a time when online learning makes it difficult for teachers to engage with students, Robinson attests that youth programs like our School Matinee Series and Stage Chemistry go beyond and teach other subjects—like science and math—with theater. “The Goodman programs make these subjects more appealing because people are drawn to the arts,” she says “Learning is easier when it’s fun. The arts make it fun and interesting!”
While programs like the School Matinee Series, PlayBuild Youth Intensive, and Musical Theatre Intensive focus on teens, Robinson adds that “the Goodman Education programs have something for all ages. I’ve attended several performances of the GeNarrations program. I am always moved by the stories the participants share and proud that the Goodman has a program that [also] values the voices of more seasoned participants.”
We hope you will join Zoraida, Loretta, Carole, Jacquelyn and the rest of the Goodman Theatre family on February 22nd for this exciting online benefit event. See firsthand how the Goodman is still connected to the community, now more than ever. Tickets and more information are available on our website.