Category Logo


June 16, 2015

June 16, 2015

For more information,
Contact: Amanda Shell Jennings
Moxley Carmichael
(865) 255-0661


Historic venue shows ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’

More than 750 children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley and the City of Knoxville Parks & Recreation Summer Playground Program enjoyed an outing to the Tennessee Theatre with the first-ever Youth Arts Alliance Kids’ Movie Day on Tuesday, June 16.

More than 750 children experience the Tennessee Theatre at the first-ever Youth Arts Alliance Kids' Movie Day on June 16.

More than 750 children experience the Tennessee Theatre at the first-ever Youth Arts Alliance Kids’ Movie Day on June 16.

“This theater belongs to every member of our community,” said Becky Hancock, Tennessee Theatre executive director. “Through programs like the Kids’ Movie Day, the Tennessee Theatre’s Youth Arts Alliance strives to make this iconic piece of Knoxville history and the world-class entertainment that appears on its stage accessible to everyone, regardless of age or income.”

When the children, ages 6 to 17, arrived at the theater at 9:30 a.m., they were greeted with a brief history presentation about the theater and its heritage as a 1920s movie palace. A healthy snack was provided by the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation with support from Whole Foods.

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 1971 film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”

“Through the Tennessee Theatre field trip, I hope the kids will learn and experience the history of the City of Knoxville,” said Kristin Manuel, City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation superintendent. “The Tennessee Theatre is an amazing place, and our kids are looking forward to the experience. We partner with community organizations of all types, including the Tennessee Theatre, to give our kids the best experience possible in the city’s recreation programs.”

The city’s Summer Playground Program takes place at 10 recreation centers throughout Knoxville and offers children the opportunity for a wide variety of recreational and cultural activities, including museum visits, swimming, canoeing and fields trips to the Knoxville Arts and Fine Crafts Center and the Tennessee Theatre. Approximately 500 kids from the summer program attended the movie day.

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 clubs sent approximately 250 school-aged kids from the Vestal, Norwood Elementary, Lonsdale Elementary, South Knoxville Elementary and Haslam Family Club University locations.

“Our kids have more options and opportunities than ever this summer,” said John Lasher, area director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. “We are excited for the kids to learn the history of the theater and Knoxville. The provided healthy snack is also a great opportunity to emphasize healthy eating.”

The Youth Arts Alliance education outreach program was founded in 2007 in partnership with Knox County Schools to help teachers incorporate arts and cultural experiences, such as theatrical performances, concerts, ballets and other entertainment, into curriculum. Youth Arts Alliance sponsors tickets for area public schools to expose students to the performing arts and organizes master classes with visiting performing artists. The program is funded through donations from individuals and businesses in the community.  Tax-deductible donations can be made online at

In the 2014-15 school year, the Youth Arts Alliance program has provided tickets for more than 500 schoolchildren to see various performances at the theater, hosted a master class for young local dancers with Broadway professionals from “Annie” and hosted a Broadway professional cast question-and-answer session with high school musical theater students during “Guys & Dolls.”

 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.