TPAC drafts NFL legend Eddie George as arts education advocate

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Eddie George will serve as advocate for TPAC Education. Photo by Mary L. Carter.

The nonprofit Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) announces that NFL legend, former Tennessee Titan, Heisman Memorial Trophy winner, and actor Eddie George will serve as advocate for TPAC Education, the organization’s expansive and nationally recognized education department.

George, who was honored with TPAC’s highest honor, the Applause Award, in August 2014 and joined the TPAC Board of Directors last July, will raise awareness of the need for arts education and its positive impact on educational achievement and well-being.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled at Eddie’s deep interest in how TPAC Education engages and inspires young people. Talented in his own right and a born mentor, Eddie is an excellent messenger for how someone can expand and enrich their life through participation with the arts,” said Kathleen O’Brien, TPAC president and chief executive officer. “Our goal over the next year is to get Eddie involved organically to see our various programs up close and provide him opportunities to speak with young people about accessing and celebrating their creative potential.”

As education advocate, George will work with TPAC to provide a strong voice of support for arts education, engage directly with students, teachers, and artists participating in the programs, and help the organization identify new ways to expand its efforts in reach, number of students, or with additional programs.

“When I was young, my mother made sure I was exposed to the arts, and I took ballet lessons to learn better body control when I got older. So, the arts were always a part of my life,” said George. “After my football career, the arts helped me find my voice. Now, I want to share that experience with kids and encourage them to discover their creative abilities, find their own voice, and live more well-rounded lives.”

According to research by Americans for the Arts, students involved in the arts are four times more likely to achieve academic success, often earning higher scores than students without arts exposure. Low-income students highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate from college as those with no arts education.

Driven to achieve similar results locally, TPAC Education administers one of the most comprehensive, curriculum-based arts-in-education programs in the country with five signature programs: ArtSmart, Disney Musicals in Schools, Humanities Outreach in Tennessee, TPAC InsideOut, and Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts. By bringing students to performances, providing teacher resources, and sending artists to classrooms, TPAC Education has served more than 1.6 million students from pre-school to high school over the past three decades.

tpac_education_horz_colorEducation-focused efforts include providing professional development opportunities, multi-week/month arts integration residencies, schoolwide Disney musical productions, and STEM residencies in Head Start classrooms.

“Most people outside of the education arena are unaware of what TPAC Education does, or that we engage tens of thousands of students, teachers, and artists each year. Our goal is to connect with people in every stage of life and change the culture of curriculum, classrooms, and schools,” said Roberta Ciuffo-West, TPAC’s executive vice president for education and outreach. “We have made long-term commitments in assisting with social/emotional development, intellectual growth, and artistic and creative exploration. That is especially important in a region with such diversity as the arts cut across different languages, socioeconomic status, and learning style.”

George’s efforts to support this meaningful work already has begun, and will continue in spring of 2016. In the meantime, he will make his Broadway debut in the role of “Billy Flynn” with Chicago the Musical, the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. Beginning January 11, 2016, George will play a seven-week limited engagement at the Ambassador Theatre (219 W. 49th St., NYC).

Click here for one-sheets on TPAC Education programs.

Click here for Americans for the Arts reports on the benefits of arts education.

About Eddie George

Before making his Broadway debut in Chicago in 2016, Eddie George appeared in such works as Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man (Nashville Repertory Theatre), Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog (Amun Ra Theatre) and in the title roles of both Othello and Julius Caesar at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. His transition to the stage completes the journey that he began following the conclusion of his NFL playing career, which saw him providing commentary and analysis for the Tennessee Titans and FOX’s college football coverage. George won screen time in such TV series as NBC’s American Dream Builders and in such films as Best Man Holiday and The Game Plan. Since then, George has worked to refine his craft onstage, including not only the credits indicated above, but also work with his Nashville-based theatrical troupe, Actors By George, which he founded in 2012. George won the Heisman Memorial Trophy in 1995 while playing for the Ohio State University. That honor served as the prelude to a nine-year career in the NFL, which saw him lead the Tennessee Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV and selected to the Pro Bowl for four consecutive years, finishing his career with the Dallas Cowboys under legendary coach Bill Parcells. Since the conclusion of his playing career, George has received his MBA from Northwestern University and founded the Edward George Wealth Management Group. He resides in Nashville with his wife of 11 years, Tamara Johnson, and his family.

Institutional sponsors for TPAC include Nissan North America, and Coca-Cola. TPAC is funded in part by support from the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission. TPAC reminds ticket buyers that the only official place to buy tickets online is TPAC.org.

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