Grantee Spotlight: Emerald Coast Theatre Company

Provided by Emerald Coast Theatre Company

Cats--28Emerald Coast Theatre Company exists to inspire, educate, and empower the community and artists of all ages to achieve the highest level of cultural excellence through collaboration, productions, and educational programs that promote lifelong learning and provide excellent, professional entertainment in the Emerald Coast Community. The company was founded in 2012 by husband-and-wife team, Nathanael and Anna Fisher, who serve as producing artistic director and associate IMG_8794artistic director, respectively.

Having returned to the Destin area after completing their graduate studies, the Fishers identified a community need for performing arts educational theatre as well as professional theatre in the area. Furthermore, the opportunities for elementary, and middle school students to be involved in theatre were slim-to-none. Many students did not have the opportunity to be exposed to or involved with theatre before reaching ninth grade. The Fishers aimed to fill that void, and sought the advice and consultation of the long-established Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, which asserted the community’s need for a comprehensive professional and educational theatre company.

IMG_8861What started as an afterschool program with ten students at Destin Elementary has now grown to a comprehensive, multi-level education program with over 400 students enrolled per year, serving children in Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay counties. Four of the original ten students are still involved with the company, and ECTC has developed satellite programs at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City and at Rise Dance Center in Destin.

Nathanael Fisher credits some of the program’s successes to the rapid growth-rate in the area. Many families relocating to the Destin-area are coming from larger cities, where comprehensive professional and educational theatre is commonplace. Emerald Coast Theatre Company is able to offer a successful, multi-faceted program that is comparable to those in larger cities.

IMG_6781Most of Emerald Coast Theatre Company’s camps and classes are production-based, meaning that every student enrolled has the opportunity to participate in a fully-staged production. The classes meet for two hours a week for ten to fifteen weeks. Nathanael and Anna are passionate about fostering community. The primary goal for ECTC is to create a space where children really feel like they “belong” and can explore and develop their creativity in a welcoming and safe environment.

IMG_4979As they continue to grow and evolve, ECTC is committed to expanding beyond their immediate area and aims to reach schools in the north of the county, where there is a higher population of Title I schools. They have started a scholarship program to make theatre accessible to all children and are also actively seeking grants to help sponsor more Title I schools for their Theatre for Young Audiences program.  They are also committed to reaching the growing homeschool population in the Destin area, and are continuing to expand their homeschool programming.

For more information, visit their website at: http://www.emeraldcoasttheatre.org.


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