OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS
Southwest Key Programs
Performing Arts Program
Southwest Key has dedicated 20 years to keeping youth out of institutions and strengthening the fabric of their communities. It offers unique and innovative programming that capitalizes on strong cultural traditions.
With the Impact Austin grant, Southwest Key will establish a Performing Arts Program for East Austin’s Govalle/Johnston Terrace Neighborhood. It will provide area youth and adults the opportunity to learn and perform traditional, Hispanic-focused arts—mariachi, ballet folklorico and bilingual theater. Classes will be offered free of charge, serving 1,500 to 2,000 people who now lack arts education and the benefits it can provide in improved self esteem, lower delinquent behavior, and improved academic achievement.
The impact of this program on the Govalle/Johnston Terrace community was very positive and highly successful as an engagement strategy for bringing entire families into the Community Center’s expanded services. What started as an interest in free after-school programming quickly blossomed into a comprehensive approach to wraparound services for the entire community.
Five sessions of the Performing Arts Program were held during the course of the grant: Summer 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Summer 2009, and Fall 2009. A total of 400 students participated in the Mariachi, Ballet Folklorico, and bilingual theater classes.
At the end of each session, students showed off what they learned at special performances, such as the Summer Sizzler, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, and at December Holiday Spectaculars that included traditional Posadas.
In addition, students appeared in events around Austin including a Cultural Arts program at the University Hills Library for “Dia de Los Muertos”, The Council On Accreditation celebration, the Hispanic Physicians Association Banquet, the Cesar Chavez parade at the Mexican American Cultural Center, and the Travis County Mariachi Convention. The audiences for all their performances added up to 3,545 people.
Other arts organizations in the community such as the Paramount Theater, Ballet Austin, and Zachary Scott Theater offered free passes to the Performing Arts Program students as part of the cultural exchange.
Southwest Key was pleased at the number of parents that volunteered extensively to make it work, contributing as stage hands, assisting as mentors in the classes, passing out flyers. As for engaging families, Southwest Key discovered that advanced and adult programming was a better approach than workshops. Families wanted an extended opportunity to learn rather than a one-shot chance via a workshop.