Everybody knows when the mercury rises in Southern Arizona, parents and their students on summer break seek indoor alternatives to outdoor activities. It’s even better if it’s educational, fun and free.
In its first year, the Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation’s Youth Arts & Culture Program, known as Kids in Theatre (KIT), is building on previous years of youth arts programming at The Fox and rapidly expanding its reach.
“Our objective is to get kids ages 5 to 11 excited about reading through engaging activities, characters and literacy-themed movies,” says Jordan Wiley-Hill, youth arts and culture associate.
On Saturday, June 22, the Fox Tucson Literary Events offer free movie screenings, including an Academy Award-winning animated short, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” costumed mascot Kit the Fox and other characters, goodie bags and book giveaways courtesy of the Pima County Library and Friends of the Pima County Public Library. The snack bar will be open.
Organizations like Literacy Connects and Bear Essential News will also be there, giving attendees the chance to engage in all hands-on literacy activities.
The event will also be held on Tuesday, June 25, so camps can bring their campers.
“Most importantly, KIT will connect kids and their grown-ups to the many wonderful literacy-related organizations and opportunities in our community, to ensure as much beneficial impact as possible,” Wiley-Hill says.
Since its inception, the KIT Youth Arts & Culture Program has expanded its reach and services, such that in 2018 it served more than 12,000 young people and their families and caretakers by hosting 28 family-friendly performances and films.
Wiley-Hill was tapped to fill the newly created position because of his extensive background in youth performance art, education and program development.
One of his first initiatives was to open dialogue by sitting down with teachers, administrators, youth arts directors, youth development professionals and other stakeholders to unearth specific arts programming voids within diverse youth populations. Broad outreach will target bilingual youth and those with developmental and physical disabilities, among many others.
Of the expanded emphasis and inclusivity, Wiley-Hill says, “We will bring together youth from all walks of life to be inspired, empowered and sense the creative potential within themselves and all people.”
There are discount facility rental rates for nonprofit youth performing arts groups and classroom tours of the theater.
In the next three years, KIT will expand the events it offers to include school matinee shows, talks and workshops with visiting artists, and a family summer film series honoring the historic Fox’s Mickey Mouse Club. These are ambitious—but attainable goals—says Fox Board President Michael Heisler.
“When we invest to enrich the lives of local children and families the impact is felt throughout the entire Tucson community.”
What: Fox Weekday Literacy Event
When: 9:30 a.m. June 25
Where: Fox Tucson Theatre,
17 W. Congress Street, Tucson