Augusta Mini Theatre
Quality of Instruction & Participant Performance
The Augusta Mini Theatre’s instructors are recognized experts in their profession. Together, they have a culmination of over one-hundred years of experience teaching the arts to at-risk youth. The numerous awards received by the Theatre in its twenty-four years of existence can evidence the quality of participants’ performance. Some of the awards include: The Governor’s Award in Arts, Wendy’s Salute to Citizens Award, and a letter of recognition from President Clinton.
Program Design & Creative Content
The program design consists of two semesters, and a summer quarter. The participants attend evening classes Monday through Friday between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Their progress is evaluated at midterm and during the last week of each semester. At the end of each semester and quarter, participants are presented to the public in recitals and season performances.
Performances are held in the local community, throughout Georgia, and parts of South Carolina. The program is designed to assist each student in realizing and reaching his or her optimum level of creativity. Through performances, students enjoy escaping into different worlds and are limited only by their creativity.
Creativity of the Program’s Approach Toward Engaging Youth Participants
The Theatre’s Founder/Director, Mr. Tyrone Butler, is a product of a low-income and high-risk community. He is no stranger to community circumstances that make a child vulnerable to at-risk behavior. He has committed the past twenty-four years of his life to assisting youth in similar situations to overcome various obstacles and become productive citizens.
The Theatre utilizes storytelling, acting, and drama to create learning situations. Through outreach, the Theatre has introduced visual and performing arts to low-income communities, youth detention centers, public housing developments, grade schools, colleges and rural communities. Since 1975, the Theatre has offered enrollment scholarships to low-to-moderate income youths. Students are given the opportunity to utilize their creativity through recitals, stage performances, directing and writing plays, and composing poems outlining their own personal experiences.
Integration of Support Services & Prevention Strategies With Arts/Performing Arts
Support services include career counseling, assistance with college and technical school applications and college book scholarships. The prevention strategies include plays written about various issues facing children and teens, such as drug and alcohol awareness, decision making, peer pressure, and teen pregnancy. The importance of education is stressed as a tool to help overcome their present state. The programs are specifically designed to help the child’s development toward becoming a productive citizen.
Making a Positive Impact On the Attitudes & Development of Children
Mr. Butler realized many years ago the potential for utilizing the arts to help students overcome their at-risk behavior and increase their self-esteem. Through the years, he has witnessed first hand the ability of the arts to transform a child considered to be exhibiting at-risk behavior into a well-rounded student. Participants learn to interact with each other, and they learn the importance of being a team player. Through the arts, Mr. Butler strives to instill in each student that everyone is capable of succeeding, no matter what circumstances they were born into.
Description of the Role of the Mayor & City Government In This Program
Since 1975, the Mayors of Augusta have led efforts to provide city grants and raise public donations for the Theatre. The present Mayor supported the Theatre as a private citizen before becoming Mayor and has continued his support. The city government has granted funds to the Theatre to provide enrollment scholarships to low-to-moderate income participants since 1976.
Demonstration of Community-Wide Support and/or Involvement
The Theatre is supported by many local, community-based programs through volunteer and financial support. Support comes from community and civic groups, sororities, fraternities (the chapter of Sigma Fraternity is in the process of adopting the Theatre), Richmond County Board of Education, Department of Family and Children’s Services, Augusta-Richmond County Recreation and Parks Department, CSRA Business League, Greater Augusta Arts Council, area churches, corporations and banks.
Description of Financing Mechanisms
In 1975, the Theatre’s budget was $100. Thanks to generous donations from individuals, churches, civic and community groups, small and major corporations, and the City of Augusta, the budget reached $200,000 in 1999. The city’s support includes an $850,000 1% sales tax grant to assist with the purchase of land and the building of an arts center in the inner city. The down payment ($25,000) used to purchase the Theatre’s present office and training space was given by the City of Augusta fifteen years ago.
In the Year 2000, the Theatre will receive $25,000 from the City’s community development block grant to fund enrollment scholarships for low-to-moderate income students. The State of Georgia’s Juvenile Justice Department has granted funds to the Theatre to tour a life skills play to nineteen youth development centers around the State for the next six consecutive years.
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352