What is ASK?
ASK, or After School at the Klein, is the cornerstone of The Klein’s education and outreach effort providing tuition-free instruction in music, dance, and drama to Bridgeport students in grades 7 through 12.
ASK is run by a top-notch staff comprised of Broadway and other performing artists who provide their expertise. Over 120 students attend classes three days each week. ASK is the only tuition free afterschool arts program available in Bridgeport, a city where many families live at or below the poverty level.
ASK runs 20 weeks over the entire school year, and utilizes the best in regional facilities available only at The Klein, one of only 7 remaining Broadway-sized stages left in the state. At the end of each session in the late fall and spring ASK students perform in a show that is free and open to the public.
The Klein Memorial Auditorium Foundation is seeking funds to sustain and expand attendance and curriculum in the ASK program. Expanding ASK will allow more Bridgeport teens to experience the benefits of Arts Education, which has been mostly
eliminated from public school budgets. An enhanced curriculum adds technical
production and stagecraft, teaching skills that easily translate to the workplace.
Why support ASK, and what is its impact?
Arts education has a well-documented and widely recognized positive impact on children’s ability to learn in school and succeed outside of school, as it builds perseverance, focus, problem solving and communication skills. Providing and expanding ASK means more Bridgeport teens will have a safe, enriching place to go after school. Our ASK students come from 11 Bridgeport schools and represent every city council district.
Participation in this program benefits not only the students, but the larger community as parents and friends become part of the supporting team encouraging ASK students to regularly attend after school and realizing the pride of achievement at the end of semester program. ASK serves an important need to those kids who need a safe place to go after school and whose families cannot afford alternative, fee-based arts education programs. 80-90% of this student population is eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.
In addition to the two end of semester concerts, the ASK program seeks opportunities for our students to perform at community events throughout the year. Over the past year they have appeared in numerous parades including the Barnum Festival, Columbus Day, Juneteenth and Black Rock parades, as well as performances at Port 5 in Black Rock and at the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in downtown Bridgeport. They have also danced at the 2015 Lunar Festival in Little Asia and performed a reggae routine in McLevy Green during the West Indies Jerk Fest.
The success of this program was highlighted last February, when six ASK dancers went to Harlem and waited in the rain to audition for the legendary “Amateur Night at the Apollo.” This is the same amateur contest where Ella Fitzgerald was discovered. A few weeks later the students got the call that they not only passed the audition, but were invited to perform at the Apollo on June 24th. Over 90 ASK supporters were on hand that night to cheer for our students.
ASK enrollment has increased in each of its three years. Our expansion plans include summer programs and expanding our curriculum to include classes in stagecraft and in technical production, the latter taught by members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Older students will receive opportunities for internships at The Klein and other professional theaters, such as the Bijou, Downtown Cabaret Theatre, and the Apollo Theater in Harlem. These internships can lead to permanent career opportunities.
ASK is made possible in part by Fairfield County's Community Foundation support, and is also funded through private and corporate contributions including the CT Office of the Arts and Harvard Business School Community Partners. We are grateful for the generous support of The Scripps Family Fund for Education and the Arts. Regular fundraising events and efforts by the Klein Memorial Auditorium Foundation are held to build sustained support and growth of the program.
While The Klein Auditorium building itself is owned by the City of Bridgeport, the operations of the Klein and the ASK school year program are not.
Thank you for your support!
Supporting ASK is an investment in the future of the lives of Bridgeport students. In addition to gaining performing experience, they also learn to relate better to others and build self-confidence and social behavior skills.
The Klein also has a complementary partnership with KEYS (Kids Empowered by Your Support), which offers private musical instrument instruction to approximately 70 Bridgeport students in grades 2 through 12. Classes are held on Saturdays at The Klein, and the string and brass ensembles perform two concerts each school year. On May 3, 2016 the KEYS Orchestra fulfilled a long held dream and performed at Carnegie Hall! KEYS also prepares some students for eventual participation in the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras, a longtime Klein partner.
Tiyon is a student at Cesar A Batalla School and is part of the TAG program. The students of TAG wrote letters to President Obama and received letters in return. Tiyon was chosen by his teacher, due to his involvment in ASK (After School at the Klein), to act out the letter that President Obama had sent to them.
We are so proud of the leadership roles our students from ASK continue to take and hope you will join us in supporting them.
Want more information on how you can help support ASK? Contact our
Director of Development: Diane Generous:
(800) 424-0160 x 4
The Klein is sustained by the generosity of our community. We offer the ONLY tuition- free after school arts program in Bridgeport. The Klein is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Your donations are tax-deductible.
We send out bi-weekly emails to keep you informed of all we have going on!