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Gwinnett Ballet Theatre receives $10K grant

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre’s Dance Project students and instructor/coordinator Whitney Sue Jones performed at Duluth’s Barefoot in the Park last May. The NEA grant will expand the program to include 108 children during the 2013-14 school year. (Special Photo)

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre’s Dance Project students and instructor/coordinator Whitney Sue Jones performed at Duluth’s Barefoot in the Park last May. The NEA grant will expand the program to include 108 children during the 2013-14 school year. (Special Photo)

LAWRENCEVILLE —With a little help, the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre is able to expand one of its projects.

The National Endowment for the Arts announced a $10,000 matching grant awarded to GBT’s The Dance Project, an educational initiative providing dance education for children in Title 1 schools in Gwinnett County.

“The benefits of dance training are undeniable. The discipline provides physical, mental and spiritual development that continues to provide assets throughout life,” GBT Artistic Director Wade Walthall said. “For this reason it is important to reach out to diverse communities. We at Gwinnett Ballet Theatre are grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for the possibility to do so. We also thank everyone else involved in this valuable endeavor.”

The Hudgens Family Foundation and the Target Foundation were initially supporting the project. With the NEA grant in collaboration with the two foundations, 108 young students from Title 1 schools in Gwinnett will participate in a total of 16 weeks of ballet classes over the school year.

The project includes classes, outfits and shoes, instructional handouts and tickets to GBT’s “The Nutcracker” and Spring Concert. Children with a desire to continue their dance education are eligible to enter the GBT Scholarship Program.

The Dance Project started in 2005 as outreach to Shiloh Elementary School. When the studio moved to Lawrenceville in 2012, The Dance Project also moved its outreach.

The program has expanded under the leadership of Whitney Sue Jones, a teacher at Magill Elementary School, who is also an instructor and alumna of GBT.

The National Endowment for the Arts is committed to “encouraging excellent arts engagement opportunities for people of all ages.”