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About Our Stages Program

SPARC’s acclaimed Stages program provides community-based performing arts training to 2nd and 3rd grade students in Richmond City and Henrico County Public Schools, including some of the most underserved populations. This in-school program brings together students, schools and communities to provide a rich experience that positively impacts academic achievement and life skills.

Stages was developed as a means of bringing performing arts education and opportunities into school systems in primarily underserved neighborhoods. Established school sites reflecting an average of 60% economic deprivation and a range of special challenges (academic, social and disabilities).

Now in its ninth year, the Stages program serves seven elementary schools, involving over 600 students each year. More than 500 hours of instruction are provided by professional, highly qualified teaching artists, along with time spent planning and conducting collaborative and evaluation meetings. In concert with classroom teachers, SPARC’s teaching artists are successfully conducting assessment of the average treatment effects of the training on each individual student. In addition to working with the public schools, SPARC also provides related, grant-funded programs with Peter Paul Development Center and St. James Children’s Center.

Program Update

The Stages program is currently paused until the schools are ready to proceed. We remain in close communication with all our partner nonprofits to determine the timeline for when it is safe and beneficial for our faculty to return to their facilities.



Elementary Schools

Students Per Year

Hours of Instruction

Years Running

How It Works

Under the guidance of professional teaching artists, students experience the process of creating and applying their academic themes or personal experiences into writing, resulting in a performance script. Together they select music, song, movement and dance. Each student receives 26-30 hours of training per year in the three primary disciplines of performing arts – acting, singing and dance. The students are mentored by a team of two or three teaching artists at a teacher/student ratio of about 12-to-1.


SPARC measures the educational progress of STAGES students using the Virginia Oral Langauge Standards of Learning (SOLs). To do so, SPARC developed a quantitative measurement instrument with the expertise of a specialist in the educational evaluation field. Through this assessment, SPARC documents an average of 53% student improvement in a single year. SPARC also shares its evaluation process and data with schools and other arts partners in the region.

For More Information

Contact Danaë Carter, Program Manager, at dcarter@sparcrichmond.org or (804) 353-3393 ext. 228.

Support STAGES

The STAGES program is provided free of charge to schools and neighborhood centers. More than 600 young people in the 2nd and 3rd grades are profoundly influenced by this program, thanks to the generous support of individuals, corporations, and foundations. Help sustain the STAGES program by giving a gift to SPARC today!