Studio 84 sets the stage for success
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Devon Fleming paints a large tube at Studio 84 in Whitewater. Fleming, 14, is part of a small group of students participating in a Theater and Visual Arts Program at the studio. Terry Mayer photo.
WHITEWATER -- Timing may be everything. However, it’s the hard work in between all of the right pieces coming together that makes the journey worth it.
That scenario has played out at Studio 84, a nonprofit art studio that opened in 2009 specializing in helping people with disabilities find and foster their creative talents. But its mission is to offer programming for all ages and skill levels.
(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )
An example of that is the new Theater and Visual Arts Program, which currently features a class of five Whitewater Middle School students who are producing a play that they will unveil to the public in mid-May.
Deborah Blackwell, founder and director of Studio 84, said project director Karen McCulloch and these teenagers are living out the organization’s mission twice a week.
“Our after-school programming is geared toward youth at risk, and the inspiration for it really is because we believe in the power of the arts,” Blackwell said. “Statistics show that when any kid is actively involved using their naturally creative energies, they have higher academic scores and less behavioral problems. And it doesn’t matter if you are labeled as at risk or disabled, this creative part of us as humans needs to be nurtured in positive ways on some level at all times throughout life or else we seem to just exist and not truly live.
“The inspiration was to get a theater program off the ground and to develop an after-school program,” Blackwell added. “These were on the slate from the beginning, but as has been the protocol in everything that has occurred with the studio, when the time is right, things seem to fall into our laps and we run with it.”
These three girls and two boys have done just that. They have developed and written a script, are building the sets and will be the actors.
“Karen and I have had a blast working with these kids,” Blackwell said. “They are creative and energetic and have been learning theater skills quickly. As we’ve seen props develop and background scenes come to life, we’ve seen them coming to higher and higher levels of focus. They have been wonderful to work with.”
McCulloch is on Studio 84’s board of directors and brings an extensive theater background to the table. She majored in English and theater at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and she and her husband, Jim, ran a dinner-theater company, doing mostly murder mysteries, out of their former restaurant for nearly 15 years.
Read the complete story in the e-edition of Walworth County Sunday HERE.