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Twin Cities arts community steps in to help teachers with lesson plans

With the limits on social gatherings these days, many organizations are getting creative in how they can still reach people.

MINNEAPOLIS — Cellphones, computers and iPads are devices peopled pushed students to put down. 

Now, they are essential... and technology is how leaders at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts are staying connected to nearly 60,000 students across the Twin Cites. 

COVID-19 has shut down schools across the nation, forcing distance learning. 

Kelli Foster-Warder is the Ordway's Director of Programming Associate. She and her team created educational elements for teachers. 

"We serve 60-thousand students every year by us going to them in their schools but now that is not possible," she said.  "That is the most equitable way for kids to get arts education through public schools system," Foster-Warder said. "We are working hard to make sure every kid still have access to the arts and arts education during this time."

But the Ordway isn't alone. 

In Hopkins, Stages Theatre Company started virtual rehearsals for the play, "The Day You Begin" 

The cast connects via ZOOM. Dallas Downey scored a role. He is 12. 

"We are adapting to this new lifestyle," Downey said. "I am remaining hopeful by participating in these rehearsals. If they were not doing this  I would've probably not had hope for this show and been like, 'Oh it is canceled.' But because they are doing this they are giving me and everyone else in the cast hope that we will perform."

Stages is also offering a free online session for families. 

You can create a play and work with the education team. 

So far, they've had 18,000 page views this week. By contrast, during this time period last year they saw less than 5,800 views for the same week. 

Instructors with Youth Dance Ensemble in Burnsville are also creating online dance lessons at  Children's Theatre Company. 

No matter how hard COVID-19 knocks us down, Foster-Warder says they hope to help spread joy while students are learning from home.

"Arts is always a way we process and grow and work through our emotions," Foster-Warder said. "We hope we help teachers and families do that."  

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