Gallo Cen­ter, SCOE Part­ner To Op­er­ate YES Com­pany

Riverbank News - - NEWS -

The Stanis­laus County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion (SCOE) and the Gallo Cen­ter for the Arts have en­tered into a 10year agree­ment that will see the per­form­ing arts venue as­sume man­age­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and artis­tic di­rec­tion for YES Com­pany fol­low­ing the up­com­ing re­tire­ment of its long­time leader, Me­la­nee Wy­att.

The new ven­ture, which be­comes ef­fec­tive at the end of July, will be led by Cort­ney Hurst Betschart, re­cently an­nounced direc­tor of arts ed­u­ca­tion for the Gallo Cen­ter.

Founded by SCOE in 1992, YES ( Youth Entertainment Stage) Com­pany of­fers a va­ri­ety of pro­grams that now will be man­aged by the Gallo Cen­ter as part of an ex­pand­ing, year-round arts ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tive of the per­form­ing arts venue. YES Com­pany’s sig­na­ture of­fer­ing is a nine­week sum­mer pro­gram that im­merses young peo­ple grades 7-12 in a pre-pro­fes­sional theater ex­pe­ri­ence. Open au­di­tions lead to an in­tense re­hearsal pe­riod and cul­mi­nate with seven performances of a Broad­way-type pro­duc­tion over the span of two week­ends at the Gallo Cen­ter. This year’s pro­duc­tion is “Dis­ney’s Beauty and the Beast,” which runs July 20 – 29.

The Gallo Cen­ter will op­er­ate YES Com­pany with par­tial fund­ing by the Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion of Stanis­laus County, which has tra­di­tion­ally fur­nished sup­port for the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s staffing, pro­duc­tion and equip­ment needs, and tuition grants for de­serv­ing stu­dents.

Wy­att, YES Com­pany’s found­ing artis­tic direc­tor and chore­og­ra­pher, will re­tire fol­low­ing “Dis­ney’s Beauty and the Beast.” She has headed the or­ga­ni­za­tion for 27 years, and leaves be­hind a legacy that has touched the lives of thou­sands of young peo­ple and their par­ents in a num­ber of Cen­tral Val­ley com­mu­ni­ties.

“We are looking for­ward to the fu­ture of YES Com­pany and our grow­ing part­ner­ship with Gallo Cen­ter for the Arts,” said Scott Kuyk­endall, SCOE as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent. “How won­der­ful for Me­la­nee to know that as she retires, the com­pany she en­vi­sioned nearly three decades ago will con­tinue well into the fu­ture to sup­port arts ed­u­ca­tion, es­pe­cially for chil­dren, in our com­mu­nity. We also want to show our ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the boards of both the Gallo Cen­ter for the Arts and the Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion of Stanis­laus County for their con­tin­ued sup­port.”

Ap­proval of the agree­ment by the Gallo Cen­ter’s board of di­rec­tors was unan­i­mous, noted board chair Robert Fores.

“This is a piv­otal mo­ment in the his­tory of arts ed­u­ca­tion in our com­mu­nity,” Fores said. “The board and staff of the Cen­ter en­thu­si­as­ti­cally look for­ward to a pro­duc­tive part­ner­ship that ben­e­fits lo­cal youth for many years to come.”

YES Com­pany ef­fec­tively is be­ing ab­sorbed into the Gallo Cen­ter’s fast grow­ing arts ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram, Path­ways to Cre­ativ­ity. That pro­gram now over­sees the Cen­ter’s an­nual stu­dent mati­nee se­ries, which brings ap­prox­i­mately 40,000 chil­dren to the Cen­ter for ed­u­ca­tional performances each sea­son; a be­hav­ior pre­ven­tion tour­ing show that per­forms for stu­dents at more than 65 re­gional school sites and com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties each year; Cre­ation Sta­tion, the Cen­ter’s an­nual mu­sic and theater sum­mer camp for youth in grades 1 – 6; Part­ners in Ed­u­ca­tion, a pro­gram of the John F. Kennedy Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts in which Modesto City Schools, Stanis­laus County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion and the Gallo Cen­ter team up to cre­ate pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment work­shops for teach­ers; Prime Shine Car Wash Driv­ing the Arts Trans­porta­tion Grants, a pro­gram that helps al­le­vi­ate the high cost of bus trans­porta­tion to bring chil­dren to and from the Gallo Cen­ter for stu­dent mati­nee performances; and, Broad­way Dreams, a re­cently added pro­gram that pro­vides pro­fes­sional train­ing by Broad­way per­form­ers and cre­ative lead­ers for stu­dents in­ter­ested in mu­si­cal theater ca­reers.

“There is no fill­ing the shoes of Me­la­nee Wy­att,” said Lynn Dick­er­son, Gallo Cen­ter chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer. “She is a force of na­ture who will be sorely missed in the lo­cal arts com­mu­nity. Our goal in tak­ing on this great re­spon­si­bil­ity is to sus­tain Me­la­nee’s vi­sion of help­ing in­still in young peo­ple the core per­sonal val­ues of re­spon­si­bil­ity, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, team­work, and pos­i­tive self-es­teem, while en­hanc­ing YES Com­pany’s man­age­ment and op­er­a­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties in fu­ture years.”

VIR­GINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Modesto’s Gallo Cen­ter For The Arts will as­sume man­age­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and artis­tic di­rec­tion for YES Com­pany upon re­tire­ment of its long­time leader, Me­la­nee Wy­att.

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