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U-M Students Create Performance Arts Outreach for Detroit School Children


From the outside, the Michigan League building will look like its usual stately self on the morning of Friday, March 9.  On the inside, however, its hallowed halls will be alive with more than 150 Detroit Public School children who will be singing, dancing, acting, drumming and, of course, laughing as they partake in a day of immersion in the performing arts.  The event is the second to be staged by MPOW (Michigan Performance Outreach Workshop), a student-run initiative that was launched last semester by two musical theatre majors at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD). 

“It never would have happened if we both weren’t such idealists.”  That’s the first thing that Ashley Park (right above) says about the new outreach organization that she and her friend Laura Reed(left above) founded. MPOW is a labor of love for Park, a junior, and Reed, who graduated in December. Both began the fall term obsessed with an idea that came to them last August: to bring Detroit school children, whose arts programs have been cut, to the U-M campus to participate in the performing arts.

“Frankly, we had no idea what a big thing we were undertaking,” said Park, an Ann Arbor native who became MPOW’s spokesperson while Reed, from Walnut Creek, CA, took an extended post-graduation trip abroad.  “That’s probably just as well, because we might not have gone ahead if we knew exactly what we were getting into.”

What these visionary young women did know was that they wanted to find a way to reach children who rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to experience the excitement, inspiration and empowerment that comes from participating in the performing arts.  It was not a school project and it was not for credit; it was a personal mission.

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past news

September 2017
March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

Students Present "Wall-to-Wall Theatre Festival" 03/27/2014

First-Ever SMTD Chamber Music Competition Launches April 5 03/27/2014

Doctoral Fellow Named MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year 03/26/2014

Theatre Student Lands Major TV Role 03/25/2014

Elizabeth Batiuk (ethnomusicology) has been chosen as a fellow at the Sweetland/Rackham Dissertation Writing Institute for spring 2014 and James McNally (ethnomusicology) received a summer and academic year FLAS for the study of Portuguese.    03/17/2014

Musicology graduate student Elizabeth McLain has been awarded a prestigious Lurcy Fellowship for research in France during the 2014-2015 academic year.   03/14/2014

December 2013

SMTD students Zoe Kumagai, Stephanie Aboukasm, and Adam DesJardins are among students profiled in an LSA article about the "Michigan in Washington" program, in which students intern at various Washington, DC organizations and businesses, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center, and the Washington Performing Arts Society.    12/10/2013

October 2013
August 2013

Evan Zegiel, a sophomore who studies with Fritz Kaenzig, was the First Place winner in the Tuba Student division of the 2013 Leonard Falcone International Euphonium & Tuba Festival.     08/21/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

November 2011
August 2011
June 2011
Current Student News
DMA Piano Students Perform with Ann Arbor Symphony more
2018 SMTD Concerto Competition Winners Announcedmore

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower