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Through circus and theatre arts education, the Prescott Circus Theatre's mission is to empower and engage youth as they develop confidence, teamwork, perseverance, artistic talent, and a dedication to working for success. By providing professional training, unique curriculum, and a safe environment for underserved youth, our Oakland-based non-profit youth development organization promotes skill mastery, physical activity, positive relationships with peers and adults, and opportunities to shine for the community.
Each year, over 170 children work with professional artists to develop physical circus skills such as juggling, acrobatics, improvisation, balancing, unicycling, stilting, hip hop dance, hambone body percussion, and clowning. An emphasis on cultural connections within the program's curriculum and structure is valued and included. Students also learn about performance art, including creative expression, stage presence, production, and theatre vocabulary.
Participants also benefit through hands-on experiences that develop personal skills that promote school and life success. These include teamwork, cooperation, the value and effectiveness of practice, pride in accomplishments, confidence, focus, discipline, attention to detail, perseverance, commitment, punctuality, the joy of community service, the ability to teach what has been learned to others both formally and informally, and grace under pressure -- the ability to smile when "the show must go on!"
The heart of the program is the performing company of approximately 20 students from Prescott Elementary School in West Oakland. These 4th and 5th graders commit themselves to a minimum of 9 hours per week of training. They also receive homework tutoring and an academic summer school session.
This group is well known and loved throughout the community as the "Prescott Clowns." Through hard work, practice, and careful coaching, they develop the necessary skills to appear at over 50 community events for over 25,000 fans annually. The group develops an hour-long show that is known for its educational and motivational themes.
Adjunct programs reach 150 additional youngsters each year. These include after school circus arts classes at satellite sites at Lockwood, Piedmont Avenue, Garfield, and Laurel Schools as well as the "Junior Clown" program for Prescott's third graders. A visual arts class is offered at Prescott for students who wish to create sets, props, or costumes for productions.
Training programs are offered free of charge and almost exclusively to low income children. This program is supported by grants, donations, and performance fees. The Oakland Unified School District provides in-kind support.
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