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August 4, 2011

On the Road for the Kids

By Karen Stutz

On Friday, September 16th at 6:30 pm, the University Musical Society (UMS) hosts its seventh annual benefit auction/dinner event, On the Road with UMS. Not only is this event an absolute blast, but the cause is near and dear to our hearts: performing arts education and community engagement. This integral portion of the UMS mission enables us to provide teacher workshops, in-class artist visits for schoolchildren, and live daytime performances programmed especially for school field-trips. In the post below, Karen Stutz — UMS volunteer, Advisory Committee Member, and 2011 On the Road Co-Chair — writes about why On the Road matters to her.

Imagine a sub-zero Ann Arbor morning in the dead of winter. Black ice, blustery winds, knee-deep snow. Without a doubt, this is the kind of morning that only a gleeful gaggle of  kids dancing to a live salsa concert can remedy. This exact sight lifted my heart when I worked as a volunteer greeter for a UMS Youth Performance by Baby Loves Salsa last winter.

I’ve volunteered as a Youth Performance greeter for a few years now and one thing is always the same: from the minute the kids step off the bus, they radiate excitement that lasts until the final curtain is drawn. The Baby Loves Salsa concert was no different. Along with their teachers, the children who attended Baby Loves Salsa clapped, sang, and danced in the aisles.

Last year, I also volunteered at the Youth Performance for the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Watching the students’ faces as they soaked up the performance was fascinating. They were rapt with attention as they followed the movement and choreography. The UMS Youth Performance program offers companion classroom curriculum and educational workshops for teachers; by the time the students are on-site at a UMS performance field trip, they are some of our most well-versed and informed patrons. They are ready for challenging, world-class performances. They are learning about cultures from all over the world and about how the performing arts can act as a window to better understand one another and the world at large.

Thousands of students from Southeast Michigan benefit in huge ways from seeing performances right here in Ann Arbor — I support the UMS Education & Community Engagement programs through fundraisers like On the Road because I’d like to keep it that way. Performing arts education matters to me because it matters to the kids.

Why is performing arts Education & Community Engagement important to you?

Tickets to this year’s On the Road event are $100 and must be purchased in advance. Rachelle Lesko at UMS is more than happy to help you with your ticket purchases and answer any questions: 734-764-8489 or ralesko@umich.edu. Hope to see you there!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Stutz is a UMS volunteer, Advisory Committee Member, and 2011 On the Road Co-Chair.
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