(Contest Nominee) AUDIENCE OF ONE Uses Performing Arts to Teach Kids the Importance of Giving Back to Community

Audience of One Youth Theater is one of seven nominated charities in Citywide Banks’ Charity Hand-Up Contest taking place from December 1-14, 2012. The Denver/Boulder community is invited to participate by voting on Facebook and spreading the word about these seven Colorado causes. The top charity will receive $5,000 and the public can enter to win 1 of 10 prizes.

Imagine an afterschool program that not only entertains and educates your child, but also builds up their self-esteem and confidence? Now what if you took that program and added a community outreach component, where your child was also taught the importance of giving back to the community?

Audience of One - Citywide Banks Charity Hand-Up ContestIt might sound too good to be true but that’s exactly what Audience of One Youth Theater (Ao1) does.  “In a lot of theater programs, the emphasis is placed on the individual, it’s very competitive,” says Ao1 director Christine Kinsman. “At Ao1 we emphasize the value of every person. We feel the gifts that were given by God are to share and not to flaunt.”

The nonprofit organization was formed in 2008 by a group of about 40 parents that were either friends or had come from other theater programs. They were looking to provide the theater experience for their children, but in a warm, supportive and community-focused environment.

These parents, along with Kinsman, formed the organization with the idea that the quality of the performances would be high but that the program would be more about the children and the community, and not the actual production.

Ao1 puts on three performances each fall and spring session, in addition to a few summer sessions as well. There’s the Spotlight production, currently “The Little Mermaid,” that’s a full-on Broadway show-style production for 8 to 18 year-olds. They also have a smaller production called the Stagelight production, for the same age group, that’s always based on children’s literature and is currently “Mulan”. Lastly, their Nightlight production is for 5 to 7 year olds and primarily serves as a short pre-show performance to the other productions, to give the young children a taste of what it’s like to be up on stage in front of an audience.

Ao1 charges a fee to participate in its 14-week programs and summer camps, but they offer scholarships and make it a point not to turn anyone away. The group regularly puts on benefit performances where proceeds from ticket sales are donated to a specific community cause.

But their community outreach doesn’t end there. Each session the children, and their families, are encouraged to participate in a local outreach program. Their most recent effort was organizing a Fun Run to raise funds for one of the Aurora movie theater shooting victims, Petra Anderson.

These outreach efforts are organized by Ao1’s L.I.F.E. Guards, which stands for leadership, inspiration, fellowship and excellence. This group is comprised of teenagers from Ao1 who act as mentors for the younger members, and lead, plan and organize Ao1’s outreach programs.

Ao1’s growth has been quick and steady. They’re in great need of larger rehearsal space, storage space, performance space and technical equipment.  A $5,000 donation from Citywide Bank would go toward helping them purchase technical equipment because “the kids are incredibly talented and we don’t want to take anything away from that with any technical difficulties,” explains Kinsman.

“Kids are challenged with so many different things these days and it’s nice to have a place where the kids feel safe and are supported by older kids and peers,” explains Kinsman of Ao1’s appeal. “It’s a place where they don’t feel judged and they can just be themselves.”

For more information about Audience of One Youth Theater, and ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.Ao1Theater.org.

Vote to Give Audience of One a $5,000 Hand-Up
As a Colorado owned, Front Range focused bank, Citywide Banks shares a commitment to our local community with Audience of One. Through its Charity Hand-Up Contest, the bank is spotlighting the great work and ongoing needs of local charities Vote in Charity Hand-Up Contestaround metro Denver. Based on the results of a 14-day vote on Facebook, the community will determine how $7,500 is split among seven Colorado charities nominated by Citywide Banks employees. The charity receiving the most votes will receive $5,000 and the runner-up will receive $1,000. The remaining donation amounts will correspond to the voting results for each nominated charity. The voting public can also enter to win 1 of 10 prizes, including dinner for two at a couple of Denver’s top-rated restaurants. Official prize drawing rules are available by clicking here.

How to Cast Your Vote – December 1 -14, 2012
The voting will take place at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Users will need to make sure they are logged into their personal Facebook account. If a user doesn’t have an account, it only takes minutes to set up a new Facebook account and it’s free. The online voting form will only be accessible for Citywide Banks Facebook Fans. To become a Fan, simply click on the “Like” button on top of any of the pages on Citywide’s Facebook Fan Page at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Then, click on the link for the ”Charity Contest” tab to access the online voting page. Each Facebook account will be permitted one vote during the 14-day voting period.

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