Submitted by: Mount Baker Theatre

For twenty-two years, MBT’s Wade Bennett King Education Series has been bringing the magic of live theater to the youth of our community. Last year Mount Baker Theatre welcomed over 15,500 students to a variety of stimulating performances in this historic regional landmark. Through annual gifts from the Frank King family, local businesses and members, MBT is able to offer a low ticket price of just $6.00 per student for all Main Stage Education shows. Public school classes and homeschool groups attend from five regional counties.

Live theatre is magic for kids. Photo courtesy: Mount Baker Theatre.

There are still schools who simply can’t afford the ticket and transportation cost to bring their students. To attempt to ensure arts access for students regardless of cost, MBT established an Educational Scholarships fund to pilot in the 2017-18 school year.

The goal of this program in the first year is to include 2,000 more students in a live arts experience. The fundraising goal was set at $16,000 to cover tickets and help with transportation costs for schools who have been unable to attend in the past three years. Other eligibility criteria are based on free and reduced lunch percentages by school, and MBT has been working with eligible schools to encourage multi-class applications for transportation efficiencies.

family memories at Mount Baker Theatre
Kids will never forget their first experience at the theater. Photo credit: C. Waits.

Mount Baker Theatre is happy to announce we’ve met both pilot goals, which means growth for the program into future seasons and more opportunities for the community to become involved. For getting the program off the ground this year, MBT thanks the following supporters: Jane Verner and John and Donna Inglis for lead individual gifts, MBT Board Members Dr. Martha Lopez and Rick Luke for leadership, Bellingham Central Lions Club and Bellingham Bay Rotary Club for significant donations, and many other individuals in our community for contributions. MBT is always thankful for the Frank and Mary King Foundation for sponsoring the regular low ticket prices of the Education Series.

Visiting Mount Baker Theatre allows each student to journey into the fields of the performing arts—Theatre, Music and Dance—all of which provide alternative lenses through which students can explore different subjects, cultures and points of view in a safe, immersive and memorable environment. Starting the moment they step into the lobby of MBT’s awe-inspiring historic landmark building, the children step outside their daily routines to experience sights, sounds and ideas that expand their horizons. Our Education Series offers curriculum connections with many subjects, including language arts, social studies, science, history and technology. When possible, we provide study-guides created by the companies that produce our Education Series shows in order to deepen student learning beyond theatre.

lighting at Mount Baker Theatre
More than 17,000 children from the region attend a MBT Education Program production each year. Photo courtesy: Mount Baker Theatre.

It’s always a pleasure to watch the joy on children’s faces, whether they’re attending a play or a performance by dancers, acrobats, musicians or other artists. They respond with surprise, delight, amazement, excitement, admiration, sometimes apprehension and always appreciation. If you want to be a part of making this happen, contact John Purdie, MBT Development Director, about how your gifts can help local kids. MBT also provides scholarships for its Missoula Children’s Theatre summer camps and supports fundraising with the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation though its Cash Back for Kids Program.

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