Wyoming’s income fell when energy prices fell, so the legislature cut school funding by about $55 million dollars last year. The legislature is meeting this month and new cuts seem imminent.
One of the casualties of the budget shortfall is that State High School Choir, Band and Drama programs have been scaled back or essentially eliminated. Jackson Hole High School (JHHS) is one example of a high school where the Arts program has been reduced to basically nothing.
Last year, at the school’s invitation, Gina Feliccia, former Broadway star, founder and Executive Director of Big City Broadway, produced and directed the Spring musical Oklahoma. It was a resounding success, and Gina agreed to direct the 2018 musical. She and Ms. Bowles, the Drama teacher, have chosen Damn Yankees for its unifying All American baseball theme.
In order to prepare students for the musical, Gina and Ms. Bowles implemented the Bridging the Gap Drama Clinics to bring theatre professionals and artists from around the country to Jackson. From January through March theatre professionals offered clinics/workshops to all Teton County high school students about the many different aspects of musical theater: vocalization, stage combat, acting, set design and others, for a $10 registration fee!
Looking ahead to 2019, Big City Broadway is launching a Bridging the Gap fundraising campaign to replenish funding and to reinvigorate the Choir, Band and Orchestra programs in the same way that Drama has benefitted.
While not every child will participate in Drama, Band, Orchestra or Choir, if these programs are funded the student body and the community as a whole will benefit from a culture that supports the Arts and the students who endeavor to find creative outlets.