Virginia Arts Festival’s education outreach makes learning leap to life

by | Dec 18, 2017 | Other News

For more than 20 years, the Virginia Arts Festival has brought renowned artists from around the globe to Hampton Roads. In addition to the packed schedule of world-class performances, the Festival reaches out to students each year. In fact, during the past school year, more than 39,000 area students saw performances and many even interacted with artists, allowing them to experience worlds beyond the classroom.

Virginia Arts Festival’s WorldClass® Education programs offer opportunities to explore the beauty and the power of the arts. Special student matinees allow students to feel the thrill of live performance in a theater or concert hall,  and then incorporate the experience into class discussions and projects that open students’ minds to new ways of learning. The Festival also schedules in-school performances or master classes that bring these renowned artists into the classroom to share their gifts, their knowledge, and their experiences.

“We take a very collaborative approach to our programs, working with teachers to supplement and enrich their curriculum,” says Christine Foust, director of education and community engagement at the Virginia Arts Festival. “We listen to their goals, needs, and concerns and work together to prepare students for our education programs.”

The Festival can bring a string quartet into a school where a student who is studying cello may hear their instrument performed at a professional level for the first time, says Foust. “When a young thespian or dancer attends a performance, it can open their eyes to the possibilities of what they are studying. It is a really meaningful and motivating experience that students might not get otherwise.”

WorldClass® Education programs set for 2018 include Macbeth with the American Shakespeare Center on Tour ( January 17); storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston (February 8); Rhythm Live! (February 23); Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (March 2); Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (April 20); and the Virginia International Tattoo (April 25–27). Dozens of in-school performances, workshops, and master classes are also planned. For full details on these programs and more information, visit

– Alli Focke