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Pollyanna Theatre Company: Giving Back Through the Arts

The Pollyanna Theatre Company focuses on bringing the value of the arts to young people. Read on to see why Kathy Smith-Willman, Board President for Pollyanna, believes live theatre helps students and how you can give back to the community through the arts.

People are at the core of my professional and personal passions – I currently serve as the Board President for Pollyanna Theatre Company, am a founding Board Member for the Bazaarvoice Foundation (which supports youth entrepreneurship) and by day I am Director of People & Talent for Bazaaarvoice, Inc.   Through my work I’m heavily involved in employee-led community efforts and corporate giving.  So whether I’m at work or volunteering in the community, people are at the heart of what I do.

In my early professional career as an educator I had the privilege to teach in a unique and prestigious school (Lamplighter in Dallas, TX) that focused on early childhood education, I was able to witness firsthand the power of the Arts in the school setting.  At Lamplighter, the only art on the school’s walls was child created. I was inspired by their creativity daily and I loved watching the children’s faces as they grew and learned through the Arts.

I was deeply saddened as I watched Arts funding being cut from public education with each passing year, as it is a proven teaching tool for all grade levels.  Students who participate in the arts are far more likely to remain in school and complete their public education.  Yet funding was slipping away.  I began looking for a non-profit that focused on use of the Arts in early childhood education and one that understood the value it brings to young people – VOILA…Pollyanna Theatre Company! I was introduced to Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, the Founding Artistic Director of Pollyanna. Her knowledge, focus and passion for education through the Arts was tangible and I wanted to be a part of what she was doing with her company of artist teachers.

Pollyanna and its work is vital to Austin and its surrounding communities – we bring the Arts to life for kids in the classroom at some of the most challenged schools in our service area, then provide them with an opportunity to come and see a live play at The Long Center, regardless of their ability to pay! In our partnership with The Long Center, THE GOOD NEIGHBORS FOR THE ARTS PROGRAM,  Pollyanna tackles math, science and the everyday problems many families face such as loss of a parent’s job or  bullying on the playground, and we do it in the Pollyanna way…with a message of hope, inspiration, motivation and an opportunity to learn through a variety of visual, aural and emotional languages. Adults love, learn and laugh at Pollyanna too!  I especially appreciate that each Pollyanna production has at its core a message of acceptance for all, regardless of our differences.

The Long Center has embraced and partnered with Pollyanna over the last several years and I couldn’t be more proud of our alliance with them. Their work and support of Pollyanna and other local Arts programs makes them a standout in Central Texas.  The Long Center’s leadership realizes the value small Arts organizations bring to Austin and its surrounding communities. They work tirelessly to support the vision and mission of our company by providing a creative home and an open door to at-risk children.

But our work has just begun!  We always need more hearts, hands, and minds who want to give back to the community through the arts.  If you would like to volunteer or give to Pollyanna in order to help us continue this vital work with our young people, please contact us today at

Come see The Pollyanna Theatre Company’s lastest production, “The Boy Who Loved Monsters and the Girl Who Loved Peas”, October 12-20 at The Long Center. 

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