The North Carolina Theatre Conservatory in Raleigh aims to impact the community by offering access to theater for people of all walks of life. “We want and strive for North Carolina Theatre to truly be a theatre for all,” said Danni Dichito, Sales and Marketing Manager at the Theatre.
A theatre for all doesn’t only mean affordable tickets and sensible location, but also accommodations for individuals who are disabled. “Inclusion and accessibility are two of the most important aspects of role as a professional theatre company serving the Triangle and beyond,” said Dichito. The ASAP (Autism and Sensory Accommodations Project) initiative aims to achieve accessibility by “providing helpful information and materials to families with children with sensory sensitivities so that the entire family can enjoy a magical night at the theatre,” said Dichito.
Beyond providing high quality and accessible theatre to the community of the Triangle, the Theatre offers many opportunities for youth. “For many years our Conservatory training program has been perceived as one of the top in the Triangle, with endless opportunities for young people to master their crafts and prepare for careers in musical theatre,” said Dichito.
Classes and training programs exist for the purpose of allowing students interested in theater the opportunity to grow. Students are also offered the opportunity to gain professional experience before college via auditions for mainstage productions. “We always maintain a strong tie between our Conservatory and professional productions,” said Ditchito.
The Conservatory’s commitment to the community doesn’t stop at classes, though. They have multiple outreach programs such as Theatre4Change; the program employs local actors to visit schools to lead various workshops from substance abuse and conflict resolution to bullying prevention and peer pressure. “The Conservatory’s Outreach Programs served over 10,000 students across Wake County last year, and we hope to see that number rise in the coming years,” siad Ditchito.
The Sound of Freedom workshop educates students on the history of African-American music with “interactive elements and facts that teach kids about the journey of music, from the days of jazz to the sounds of today”. By introducing tough topics in an environment that involves acting and interactive lessons, the Conservatory is able to offer a more approachable and “human” view for children to use.
On top of providing educational outreach programs to youth, the Conservatory has the Jones Family Theatre Education Fund. The Theatre established the fund in 2005 and it “has had tremendous impact on our community,” said Ditchito. The Jones Family Theatre Education Fund supports programs such as Share the Stars: the program that bridges the North Carolina Theatre to children and families who do not have the resources to attend theatrical productions. Share the Stars brings new audiences to the theatre without charge to the individuals, thus furthering the reach of the NC Theatre in the community.
“We’re also able to provide scholarships to students of the Conservatory to support their endeavors of entering the musical theatre world professionally after they leave Raleigh,” said Ditchito. Today, the fund is achieving its original goal by honoring the founder of NC Theatre, De Ann Jones, and her commitment to supporting the dreams of youth.
In looking to the future, the Theatre and Conservatory desire to continue serving the community. To fulfill that goal, they aim to continue Theatre4Change workshops and reach more students through the program. “Our Conservatory is implementing lots of exciting changes in programing,” said Ditchito. The Conservatory will also continue to connect students to the NC Theatre’s mainstage productions.
The Spring 2019 season has just started and upcoming shows at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory include Murder for Two and Annie. Class registrations have also opened up for programs involving youth age 5-18 and adult classes, covering everything from singing, dancing, and acting.