Historic venue shows ‘The Muppet Movie’
More than 200 children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of East Tennessee and other youth groups enjoyed a July outing to the Tennessee Theatre as part of the second annual Youth Arts Alliance Kids’ Movie Day.
“Local children become our future supporters of the arts,” said Becky Hancock, Tennessee Theatre executive director. “Kids’ Movie Day and other Youth Arts Alliance programs introduce them to an iconic venue in Knoxville’s history, broaden their cultural experiences and create a passion for the arts.”
When the children, ages 6 to 17, arrived at the theater on Tuesday, July 12, they were greeted with a brief presentation about the theater’s history as a 1920s movie palace. Popcorn was provided by the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation, along with a coloring sheet of the theater.
“For many of these kids, this is their first time at the Tennessee Theatre, and we hope to make it a special experience for them,” Hancock said.
Tennessee Theatre historian and house organist Bill Snyder played classic songs on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ to offer the children the opportunity to experience a movie at the theater as it would have been shown when the doors opened in 1928. After the concert, the kids enjoyed a free showing of the 1979 film, “The Muppet Movie.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley has 20 clubs throughout its service area with summer programming that allows children to have fun and continue to advance educational goals while school is out. Fields trips to cultural sites like the Tennessee Theatre help achieve both goals. The children who attended represented clubs at Western Heights, Montgomery Village, Walter P. Taylor Homes, Norwood Elementary School, Carter, Haslam Teen Center, Halls/Powell, North Anderson County, Lonsdale Elementary School, Middlebrook, Vestal, North Ridge Crossing, Haslam Family Club University and Lenoir City.
“This field trip is a fun way to help educate our kids about the history and architecture of downtown Knoxville,” said John Lasher, area director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. “This summer, our kids have even more opportunities to explore and learn, and the trip to the Tennessee Theatre is sure to be a highlight.”
The Tennessee Theatre’s Youth Arts Alliance education outreach program was founded in 2007 in partnership with Knox County Schools to expose school-aged students to cultural, musical and theatrical education and experiences; underwrite the cost of tickets to world-class entertainment to disadvantaged youth; and introduce youth to the Tennessee Theatre and downtown. Youth Arts Alliance provides tickets for area public schools and organizes master classes and other learning opportunities with visiting performing artists.
In the 2015-16 school year, the Youth Arts Alliance program purchased tickets for more than 280 schoolchildren to see various performances at the theater, hosted master classes for young local vocalists with Broadway professionals from “The Sound of Music,” and managed a casting call to provide an opportunity for a young actor to have a non-speaking role in the Broadway production of “Ragtime.”
Youth Arts Alliance is funded through donations from individuals and businesses in the community. Tax-deductible donations can be made online at http://www.tennesseetheatre.com/support/.
About the Tennessee Theatre
Located in the heart of downtown Knoxville, the Tennessee Theatre opened in 1928 as a movie palace. The Tennessee Theatre is the Official State Theatre of Tennessee and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Tennessee Theatre is the region’s leading performing arts facility with advanced technology, staging and lighting that draws top entertainment to the Knoxville area. The Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation is a nonprofit organization tasked with maintaining and preserving the historic theater and ensuring diverse arts and cultural entertainment remains in downtown Knoxville.