On matinee days, the school busses start arriving around 10:30 a.m. By 11:00 the lines of students representing multiple grades and multiple schools fan out across the plaza from the statue of George Washington to the steps leading up to Red Square. When the doors to Meany Hall open, they surge through, excited but mostly orderly, and find different spots in the lobby to leave the brown-bag lunches they’ll eat after the show. Then it’s time to find their seats in the theater. By the moment the curtain goes up at 11:30, it’s generally a full house.
Every Season, Meany Center offers area schools the opportunity to bring their students to a live performance by the world’s leading artists in our theater. We reserve a minimum of 50 percent of the seats for schools that have high enrollments in free- and reduced-cost lunch programs, and the program is free of cost for the schools and the students.
This Season, we’ll be presenting a record six matinee performances starting with Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba in November. There’s a lot of variety this year—Cuban dance is followed by the fabulous percussion quartet Third Coast Percussion; American roots singer, Martha Redbone; a new version of an old Persian epic, Feathers of Fire, featuring an original score and a combination of live actors, shadow puppetry and projection; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; and finally, Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
Each matinee has been carefully chosen for its relevance to the diverse population the Seattle School District serves and to the kind of live performance that is most likely to spark a young person’s life-long interest in the arts. We expect to reach upwards of 6,000 K-12 students this year through matinees alone.
We wouldn’t be able to serve so many children if not for the generosity of U.S. Bank Foundation, The Peg & Rick Young Foundation, East West Bank, Ladies Musical Club and Banner Bank for their support of our Student Matinee program, as well as the many generous individuals who make arts education outreach possible in our community.