News Go behind the scenes with Omaha Performing Arts

O-pa's Arts Access program connects under-served community members to the arts

Posted On Jan 15, 2020, 15:40 PM by Mary King
Arts Access children participate in Scrap Arts Music Preshow Playtime. 

It’s no secret that our world would simply be ordinary without art. That’s why we’re enthusiastic about ensuring everyone in our community is connected to entertainment offered at Omaha Performing Arts.

More than a decade ago, we started the Arts Access program with the mission of providing free and reduced rate tickets to under-served and/or low-income populations. During that time, we have partnered with more than 70 organizations to serve populations lacking adequate access to performing arts.

Our Arts Access partners  include a wide-range of nonprofit organizations focusing on everything from youth development and social services to persons with disabilities who do not have regular opportunities to experience high quality performing arts.

“We believe that our venues and performances are for everyone. The Arts Access program makes it possible for all community members to experience the arts, regardless of financial status,” said Dominic Green, Community Engagement Manager, Omaha Performing Arts.

One of our youth organization partners, Collective for Youth, oversees out of school time activities for more than 7,000 elementary and middle school aged students. The program director of Collective for Youth, Gwyn Williams, says the Arts Access program engages students in the richness of arts and culture but for one family the experience helped them escape the realities of everyday life, if only for a moment.

“A refugee mother and her two sons recently fled from the war-torn environment of Syria. Before settling in Omaha, the family was placed in Valley, NE, however; lost everything in the flood. Prior to that, the family was in a refugee camp. Thanks to the Arts Access program, they experienced the beauty of the Orpheum Theater and a wonderful show,” Williams said. 

Another Arts Access partner, Completely KIDS, assists more than 2,000 youth and their families via school and homeless shelter partnerships in overcoming barriers to their success. Most recently, Completely KIDS students had the opportunity to watch a performance by Ailey II, a world-wide renowned dance group comprised of the country’s top dancers.

“It is always a big highlight for our staff to see kids so ecstatic going on a new adventure. By providing fun trips, you are helping us keep them engaged in our programs and off the streets," Lacey Locklear, Resource Development Manager, Completely KIDS.

In addition to providing arts access to underserved children, the Arts Access program also brings the arts to our diverse senior community. The Intercultural Senior Center (ISC) is a great example of the variety of local groups involved.

ISC’s mission is to improve the dignity, quality of life and physical well-being of seniors. Executive director, Carolina Padilla of ISC calls the partnership a wonderful opportunity for seniors to explore their creativity.

“The center is proud to have seniors from many different cultural, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds. The partnership with Omaha Performing Arts has created a platform where all seniors can give shape to their many voices, opinions and experiences," Padilla said. 

We truly treasure the partnerships we have with every Arts Access organization and it’s through these relationships that we’re able to reach diverse audiences across the community.

Interested in enriching and empowering your community through the arts? Find out how you can become an Arts Access partner here.