Welcome to the first installment of the Student Arts Spotlight blog series!
This series highlights the work of student organizations and clubs at the University of Virginia and Piedmont Virginia Community College who have gone above and beyond curriculum to create art. These groups of young artists are recognized for both their exceptional dedication to the arts and their incredible work ethic.
This week, we spoke with third year McIntire School of Commerce student and physics major Ben Cunningham, president of Kids Acting Out at UVa. Kids Acting Out is a student-run service organization dedicated to directing local children in theater productions.
What is the mission of Kids Acting Out and how is it relevant to the UVa and Charlottesville communities?
Kids Acting Out’s mission is to expose students to theatre and the arts. To teach elementary students about the different worlds of theatre, while also giving them the opportunity to create and perform their own plays. UVa students are the directors and teachers for the students. We work primarily with Venable Elementary School but also have branched out into the Mountaintop Montessori School and are trying to work with other schools and organizations within the Charlottesville community.
What are some of the advantages or challenges that you face as an entirely student-run organization?
Being a completely student run organization gives us the flexibility to keep tweaking the organization. Also, having student leaders gives a wealth of new ideas and energy. Our biggest challenge is having a consistent membership base. Students have hectic schedules with constant conflicts so our membership week to week really fluctuates.
How has Kids Acting Out affected your education at UVa? What have you learned from running or participating in Kids Acting Out that you will carry with you after graduating?
It has taught me the importance of patience. Trying to manage 30 kids at a time can be extremely overwhelming. It has also taught me that great ideas can come from anywhere. These students come up with the most hilarious, beautiful ideas, but it just takes some time to work with them for the ideas to come out.
What can the Charlottesville community look forward to seeing from Kids Acting Out in the near future? What events or exhibits will be open to the public?
Our main purpose is to have educational camps for students. But we have one performance every semester. The upcoming performance will be at Venable Elementary School November 21st.
How can the Charlottesville community engage with the mission of Kids Acting Out?
We would love to keep branching out to any organization or school that is interested in having a workshop to work with students to learn more about theater. If anyone is interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.