Arts Start



The Arts Start program is an initiative of University of Illinois Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium and the Springfield Urban League Head Start, funded by PNC’s Grow Up Great initiative.  The program includes activities that engage Head Start teachers, students, and families in performing arts experiences that enhance school readiness and encourage academic, social, personal, and emotional growth.



The Arts Start program has three components:

  • Teachers receive an annual PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT workshop to train them in arts-integration classroom techniques.  (Building on the Auditorium’s growing teacher training program, the nationally-recognized Partners in Education program of John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the workshop is led by a Kennedy Center-endorsed trainer.)
  • All Head Start students, staff, and their families are invited to to a free FAMILY NIGHT that includes a meal, craft activities, and a performance by a professional touring theater company.
  • Students attend two preschool-level daytime field trip PERFORMANCES that are part of Sangamon Auditorium's Class Acts series; teachers receive customized Teacher Guides to help them incorporate the performances into the classroom; Sangamon Auditorium staff visit every Head Start classroom before each performance to prepare them for the experience; every classroom receives a copy of the storybook on which the performance is based.




Advisory Committee: A committee of two Head Start teachers, one Head Start parent, PNC employees, and selected Auditorium and Urban League administrators meets annually to discuss goals and objectives, suggestions for improvement, and family and volunteer involvement.


Teacher Guides: Preschool-appropriate learning materials are provided for each show and are available for download: