Now in its 13th year, On Stage! has given more than 200 high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to ‘live’ the arts! This exciting program continues to introduce students to the performing arts – from theater and opera to classical music and world culture – in the hope they gain a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

OnStage_group2013[2]Members of the 2013 On Stage group

Students from high schools in Central Iowa are invited to submit an essay detailing why they should be picked to participate for Iowa State Center’s successful audience development program On Stage! Those selected are given provided with background information and given the opportunity to attend six Performing Arts Series performances. They also have conversations with artists from the productions or local arts experts to discuss and interpret each event which helps them write a brief essay about their reactions.

What an exciting opportunity for these teenagers! Not only do they get to attend these performances free, they get to meet with the performers after the show to ask questions and gain insight into what it means to be ‘On Stage.’ For many students, On Stage! is their first time experiencing live entertainment; for others, it is an opportunity to expand their arts knowledge and understanding.

 Student Quotes

I’ve been going to shows and concerts my entire life, but something was always missing. No matter how many plays my parents took me to as a child, or how many concerts I convinced them to take me to as a teenager, I always wanted more … On Stage has been a wonderful experience for me in so many ways, but most importantly because it opened my eyes to shows I never would have seen on my own accord, or shows my parents never would have taken me to, and ended up liking some of them more than concerts I begged my parents for weeks to take me to. On Stage has truly opened my eyes to all the types of arts out there previously unbeknownst to me.

(Bridgit, 10-11)

After watching five fantastic performances I am so glad I decided to apply for the OnStage program. Each show was new, different, and surprisingly fascinating.

(Kristin, 10-11)

As I began the long trek for preparing for college repeatedly I hear that colleges are looking for what they have deemed a “well rounded person”. … Theater is an art form that loves to test boundaries. Just by being in theater I thought I was testing boundaries, but because of this show I have realized that I have been testing the exact same boundaries each time, which doesn’t really make it testing boundaries. This experience allowed me to sample so many different kinds of art… It is thanks to On-Stage! that I have finally realized what being well rounded means. It means trying new things and knowing yourself. That is why with confidence I can say that it is thanks to On-Stage! I am now a better “rounded person”.

(Jacinta, 10-11)

I don’t think I can articulate how grateful I feel for this experience. Every performance exceeded my expectations and I’m glad to have been able to go to every one of them. Before On Stage, I don’t think I really understood or gave enough credit to the audience’s role in each show. I realize now that each show elicits a different response from the audience, and the audience can just have as much of an effect on the performer(s).

(Katie, 10-11)

Being a member of On Stage has been an awesome experience. I have seen many auspicious performances, and found some surprises along the way. I have been stretched in my theatrical tastes, and found new interests. On Stage has been an amazing educational experience. I have learned so much about the variety of performances available and about my preferences through it. It has piqued my interest further in the arts, and I will enjoy pursuing performances of solo comedy, plays and orchestra in the future. I am so glad I had this unique opportunity.

(Taylor, 10-11)

The On Stage program is open to Juniors and Seniors from Ames High School and Gilbert High School.
Applications should be turned in to coordinating teachers at the two schools involved: James Webb at AHS or Shelley Leiser at GHS.
Please contact Sara Compton at or 515-294-7389 with questions.

We are proud that On Stage! opens the door for young audience members to learn about the wonderful world of the performing arts. We look forward to sharing experiences with these youth and with you for many, many more years!