Far More Than A Fairy Tale

This cold winter's day was not just another school day for the students of Williamsburg County Magnet School in Kingstree, SC. Nothing spices up the daily routine quite like a field trip, and these students had been preparing for this day for weeks.

As the lights dimmed and the curtain rose, the children were finally able to watch as Columbia City Ballet ballerinas glided gracefully across the stage. The performance was the culmination of a special ballet unit they have been studying for the past two weeks which taught them about pliés and ballet etiquette.

When the performance ended, the students eagerly asked questions. They left with an experience that will stick with them for a lifetime, instilling an invaluable appreciation for a new art form and perhaps even inspiring a future ballerina.

Over the past 22 years, The Columbia City Ballet’s Educational Outreach Program (EOP) has reached millions of children throughout our state. The program’s performances are specially made each season to provide a deep understanding of the ballet art form and enhance the lives of audience members.  

Since 2006, The Columbia City Ballet has received three grants to support this program from Field-of-Interest funds at the Community Foundation. The $28,000 in funding has come from three funds – the Pierrine & Hootie Johnson Fund, Pied Piper Fund and Nell V. Mellichamp Fund — established to support various arts and cultural activities and to promote youth music education.

“These grants have helped us to stay steadfast in our commitment to educational outreach for our community and for our state reaching thousands of children every year,” said Executive Director William Starrett.

The performances reach students from South Carolina public and private schools, home-school groups and the general public. However, the greatest victory for the EOP is that lower income level children are able to attend, making up approximately 75% of audiences. Tickets are only $5, allowing opportunities for much-needed arts education supplementation in South Carolina schools facing socioeconomic challenges, especially in rural areas.

“Our founders created the Community Foundation to help make the Midlands a more caring and appealing place. We believe having a thriving arts and cultural scene is an important part of doing so,” said Foundation CEO JoAnn Turnquist.

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