Berklee to Launch Theater Programming for Students with Special Needs
The Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs will launch programming for students with disabilities who are interested in theater starting in the spring 2019 semester. The institute currently provides opportunities for individuals with special needs ages 3 and up to learn about, experience, and create in the arts through music classes and lessons; adaptive dance programs; community programs; learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students; professional development for teachers; and partnerships with international, national, and regional organizations.
The new theater program, Daytime Moon Creations, will provide participants with opportunities to improvise and explore in theater activities, and to create a theater piece that they will perform at their final session. The content of the improvisations and the performance will be primarily driven by the student participants. Berklee staff and students, in addition to trained volunteers, will serve as instructors for the program.
“Adding theater to the robust roster of learning opportunities at the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs has been a goal since we opened over a year ago,” said Rhoda Bernard, managing director. “We want to bring the joy of theater to students with special needs in an environment that allows them to thrive creatively and work collaboratively with one another.”
The Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs serves as a leader in the field of arts education and special needs. Its work began at Boston Conservatory under Bernard's direction in 2007. At that time, Boston Conservatory was the first performing arts college to offer private music lessons to individuals on the autism spectrum and, under the leadership of Deputy Chief of Staff Kim Haack, was the first school in Boston to present autism-friendly performances in 2013. In 2015, it was also the first conservatory in the nation to launch graduate training programs specifically in music education and autism.
The merger between Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music led to the creation of the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs, where this programming now resides. The institute is a catalyst for the inclusion of individuals with special needs in all aspects of visual and performing arts education. The institute's three areas of work are: arts education programs for people with disabilities; graduate programs and courses in music education and autism; and professional development for educators, artists, administrators, researchers, and others in the field of arts education and special needs.