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Arts, Sports & Culture

PNC Awards CLO Academy of Musical Theater $800,000 Grant

Jessica Nath
90.5 WESA

  More than twenty children lined the stage at the CLO Academy of Musical Theater today to rehearse songs from their Cinderella production - and now even more children can take part in future productions.

That’s because the PNC Foundation has awarded the academy a four-year, $800,000 grant.

“It is to help them expand their school, their young children’s academy, where they’re going to be able to expand the reach,” Eva Blum, PNC Foundation Chairwoman and President, said. “They’re going to be able to bring in more professionals to help the children and they’ll be able to reach more children in at-risk communities.”

According to Kiesha Lalama, CLO Education Director, the grant will help them establish their first pre-K program.

“We didn’t have the funding to reach early childhood audiences, and through PNC we are now able to reach all those younger preschool kids ages 3 through 5,” Lalama said. “And to be able to expose them to the arts at such a young age is going to be extremely positive in their futures.”

Blum agreed; she said exposing young children to musical theater helps them develop social skills.

“They have to follow directions, they have to stand in line, they have to sing together, they have to play together and it’s very, very important,” Blum said. “So it helps them now in school and it helps them for the rest of their lives.”

She said children who have music in their curriculum are shown to be better at math and reading.

Lalama said the grant will also help increase the number of scholarships awarded to children.

“What this will allow us to do is to actually offer financial support to families that might not necessarily be able to afford it, so that’s very exciting to me because sometimes the quality of training and professional training isn’t accessible,” Lalama said.

In order to receive a scholarship, she said the children must audition in front of a panel of judges.