When Coffee Alliance for the Arts learned about the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT), its board knew the traveling theatre program would be a wonderful opportunity for kids in their rural community to gain exposure to theatre and the arts. The program first visited Coffee County in 1980 and today remains a favorite summer activity for children in the area.
Based in Missoula, Montana, the program travels around the world every year to bring exposure to theatre and the arts to children who otherwise may not have the opportunity – children like Anna Braswell, who participated in MCT’s tour to Coffee County every year from a young age.
“We’ve always been a creative family. My mom was a music teacher and my dad played piano,” said Anna. “We had just moved to Douglas that first summer we did the Missoula program. My mom realized she could send all four of her kids to a theatre camp for free, and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to us.”
Over the years, hundreds of kids like Anna have gained valuable experiences through their participation in MCT. As a rural area in Georgia, Coffee County doesn’t have the resources or numbers to produce a large theatre program, and the opportunities to participate in theatre and arts programs in the area are few and far between. However, the benefits of exposing children to the arts are vast. From building confidence to developing problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to nurturing creativity and emotional intelligence to opening the door to future career paths, childhood engagement in the arts correlates to success later in life.
Anna, who now lives and works in Los Angeles as a television writer credits the Missoula Program with fostering her love of arts and theatre and leading her to pursue her current career path. And her siblings, who also participated in the program, continue to seek arts opportunities into adulthood. Her brother studies technical theatre and one of her sisters participates in her local community theatre.
Stories like Anna’s showcase the impact of the Missoula Children’s Theatre on kids in and around Douglas, Ga and why Coffee Alliance for the Arts began its partnership with MCT 40 years ago and remains committed to providing this opportunity each summer. The program’s success caught the eye of the Community Foundation of Coffee County, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, who has funded the Missoula Theatre through its annual grant program for several years. Charitable gifts such as these community grants are the reason the Coffee Alliance for the Arts is able to not only bring MCT to town each summer but also ensure that no student has to pay to participate in the program.
In 2021, Missoula Children’s Theatre will travel back to Coffee County the week of June 14, providing everything needed – sets, costumes, equipment, props – to produce a one-act musical featuring kids from the Coffee County area. Children ranging from kindergarten graduates to rising high school seniors will have the opportunity to audition for acting roles or can be part of the crew as they rehearse for their production of The Snow Queen.
We are proud to play a role in helping make sure funding is available for Coffee Alliance for the Arts to bring MCT to town each summer because, for families like Anna’s, the show must go on!
For more information about the Missoula Children’s Theatre or Coffee Alliance for the Arts, please click here.