PPA Youth Programs

 photo by Virginia Lee Hunter

photo by Virginia Lee Hunter

In the fall of 1999, Agnes Wilcox began teaching a series of acting classes part-time at St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center called I’m an Actor. Later that same year, a performance series, Arts Alive!, featuring artists from the St. Louis area, began at St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center. 

In 2005, I’m an Actor transitioned into Learning Through the Arts, expanding the scope of classes being offered to include music and dance. That same year, programming began at Hogan Street Regional Youth Center.  Shakespeare Festival St. Louis partnered with PPA for the first year of programs at Hogan Street.  Prison Performing Arts, Young Audiences of St. Louis, and the Family Court – Juvenile Division partnered for the first version of The Hip Hop Project during spring break of 2004. PPA and the Family Court continued on with the partnership after 2004. 

Since then, this program has been held annually during spring break when regular classes are not in session and youth remain in the Center. In June of 2010, a summer version was added offering the program to youth at the Center twice per year.

PPA's Current Youth Programs: 

  • Arts Alive! creates partnerships with performing artists in the St. Louis region to provide professional performances of music, dance, opera and theatre to the youth at St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center. The youth work with a volunteer docent prior to each performance so they are better prepared for the performance experience.

  • Learning Through the Arts provides year-round after-school and weekend performing arts classes in acting, dance and music for youth at St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center. Classes are designed to help incarcerated youth learn life skills:  focus and concentration, impulse control, cooperation and collaboration, commitment and responsibility.

  • The Hip Hop Poetry Project provides intensive performance arts programming — classes, performances, and workshops — during public school breaks at St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center; we hold one in the spring and one in the summer. Our goal is to have each young person in the institution spend every day of the project in constructive, creative activities. This project provides workshops in poetry writing and performance, design and dance. The student poetry is shared through a concluding performance, CD, and an anthology.
  • Theatre on Hogan Street provides a unique acting and literacy curriculum for youth at the Hogan Street Regional Youth Center (Missouri Division of Youth Services). Prison Performing Arts serves approximately 35 young men ages 12-16.