NewsHillsborough County


Straz Center bringing the stage and performers into the community

Straz Center's Arts Education Partnership Program
Posted at 10:19 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 15:52:15-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The Straz Center is sending out its own talent across the community to introduce the arts to people of all ages for free.

Navy Carter’s favorite part about his weekly acting class at Pepin Academies Tampa, is he never knows what exercise Straz artistic director Matthew Belopavlovich is going to come up with next.

“Not a lot of kids get a chance to work with a professional but somebody like Mr. Matt definitely knows what he’s doing,” said Carter.

Pepin Academies Tampa is one of 42 locations across Tampa Bay to participate in the Straz Center's Arts Education Partnership Program.

“We have teachers in all of our departments that are ready and excited to come out and teach this great content in schools and organizations, nonprofits, anywhere where there is a need for arts education,” said Belopavlovich.

Pepin Academies teacher, Lauren Ortiz, says classes like this bring an extra layer of education and experience into a student’s life.

“These are kids who have probably never seen a Broadway show before, they may not ever get to see a Broadway show or go to the Straz Center at all,” said Ortiz.

While it’s called an acting class, what these students are learning is so much more.

“That idea to communicate what you are feeling inside and express that, usually by the end of the semester the end of the year it’s coming full circle,” said Belopavlovich.

“I definitely feel this will help me going into college and later in life,” said Carter.

The program is now entering its 13th year, and the Straz is looking to add some new names to their playbill.

“On the application process what we are really looking for is what your school needs and why they need it,” said Belopavlovich.

You can fill out an application at The deadline is April 2. Not just schools, but nonprofits, church groups and any other community organization is welcome to apply. It’s open to all ages.

“I definitely think it’s worth applying for with just the simple fact that they have these experts there who this is their job and they’ve been doing it a really long time and it’s really valuable,” said Ortiz.