Chico Performances' Youth Programs

“For many of the kids in this area, it’s their first time seeing a live performance. Adopt-A-Class helps foster growth and learning and for some kids creates a lifelong love for the arts. I want to pass that along.”

Who among us doesn’t recall that childhood memory of entering the vast space of a theatre for the first time? Sitting in those plush seats, looking out at the red velvet curtain, waiting for something to happen? Then…the music started, enveloping the space around us, and our first live performance had begun.

Each month thousands of children in the North State have the good fortune of participating in the University’s Chico Performances program on the Chico State campus. This opportunity, one they might not otherwise have, also gives them exposure to a university environment. For 30 years, Chico Performances has brought top performers in theatre, music, and dance to Laxson Auditorium.

Serving North State youth is a commitment Chico Performances takes seriously. In 1997, with a grant from the City of Chico, the Adopt-A-Class program was started by Chico Performances to bring together local business, classrooms, and children.

The Adopt-A-Class program is an effective way for businesses, organizations, and individuals to make a difference in children’s lives by broadening their exposure to the arts. “We find that businesses who adopt in this program enjoy the experience of seeing their adopted classes coming to the field trips,” says Daran Goodsell, Chico Performances marketing coordinator. “They go with the classes to see these performances, and the energy throughout the auditorium is inspiring.”

Currently, the North State community has adopted 70 classes. Businesses and individuals who adopt receive early access to tickets that later sell out. There are 26 performances offered each season, during school hours, at no cost to local student groups.

“I think it’s really important to see live performances,” says Madeline Keaveney of Chico. Keaveney adopts classes from Capay School because her daughter is a teacher there and her granddaughter a student. “I grew up in Boston, and because the arts were so prominent, I had the privilege of being exposed to many different types of performances,” she says. “For many of the kids in this area, it’s their first time seeing a live performance. Adopt-A-Class helps foster growth and learning and for some kids creates a lifelong love for the arts. I want to pass that along.”  

The Paradise Elks Lodge partners with Chico Performances to adopt all third-grade classes from Ponderosa Elementary in Paradise, California. “It’s a great program; the kids love it and learn a lot from it,” says lodge officer Alan Bates. “It gives kids something else to think about. They get to see individuals that are dedicated and who have worked hard to make something of themselves.” 

The Elks Lodge is a service organization that understands the importance of giving kids opportunities outside the classroom and commits funds for that purpose. “What we’re trying to do is give them something they might not get at home, and expose them to things going on in the world,” says Bates.

Barbara and Bob Malowney, owners of Bird in Hand in downtown Chico, adopt their grandchildren’s classes because they are passionate in their belief that all ages in Chico should experience quality cultural events. “Our grandkids and their classmates bond over these shared experiences and performances, and we love the opportunity Chico Performances provides to enhance their cultural and social education,” says Bob Malowney.

For a small monetary investment, businesses and individuals can provide North State children with a cultural opportunity that might not otherwise be available to them. Schools and parents cannot always afford the cost of tickets and transportation. “It is well worth the underwriting cost to hear the excitement in their voices in the retelling of the performances,” says Barbara Malowney. “We feel the results are measurable in their enhanced outlook of learning about the world.”

North State kids appreciated their opportunity to see the Golden Dragon Acrobats as part of Chico Performances’ Field Trip Series.
North State kids appreciated their opportunity to see the Golden Dragon Acrobats as part of Chico Performances’ Field Trip Series.