The arts give our children a voice, a way to express themselves, a way to have fun and socialize, and most importantly hope. – Allison Bencar
Teaching artist Allison Bencar has been a member of the TPAC team for more than eight years, primarily working on arts integration and with TPAC’s Disney Musicals in Schools program. Our current shutdown due to COVID-19 has been a difficult time for everyone in the arts and entertainment industry. So, we sat down with Allison to discuss how she’s staying busy and why it’s important to keep the arts alive during this time.
TPAC: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the arts?
Allison Bencar: I really loved singing as a kid and started doing theatre in high school. From that point on I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the performing arts.
TPAC: When did you become a TPAC teaching artist? Why did you want to join the TPAC team?
AB: I moved to Nashville in 2012 out of love for the city and the music scene. I had been working in Cleveland, Ohio, as an actor and teacher for The Great Lakes Theater and enjoyed every minute of it. I saw that TPAC had an amazing education program that would allow me to continue to share my love of the arts with kids all over Nashville. Becoming a part of the TPAC team was one of the best decisions I ever made.
TPAC: What TPAC programs do you work with? What has been the most fulfilling thing about being a teaching artist?
AB: I work with arts integration and the Disney Musicals in Schools program. The most fulfilling thing about being a TPAC teaching artist is the opportunity I have to share something I love with younger generations. I strive to be the kind of role model I needed in the performing arts world. Working with these children allows me to help launch them on their own performing arts journey whether they make it a career or use it is a stepping stone to grow in confidence.
TPAC: Has anything surprised you during your time working with TPAC?
AB: I think the recent events of 2020 definitely surprised me. We all felt unprepared to lose our work in the live classroom practically overnight, but it was beautiful to see this team of teaching artists and our wonderful leaders pull together and find community in such a difficult time. I was even able to help create and teach a fully online Arts Integration Institute this summer for our wonderful teachers at Warner Arts Magnet Elementary School. It was a beautiful and memorable week that we all needed especially at that time. I was honored to be a part of the experience.
TPAC: How have you and your career shifted during COVID? What has been the most challenging? What about the most rewarding?
AB: A lot of things in my career shifted due to COVID. I felt very lost in this time until I figured how to use the digital platform as an educator and still make an impact in the lives of young people while helping support my family financially.
TPAC: Are you offering any classes during this time?
AB: Right now, I offer a variety of classes online through a program called Outschool. I currently teach theatre, music, and preschool classes and work with kids ages 3-12. I am very proud of the Drama Clubs I have put together so these kids still have a way to perform and socialize. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life as I teach children from all over the world. It is definitely different than teaching in a live classroom but powerful and amazing in its own way.
TPAC: Do you think it’s still important for kids to have access to arts education during this time?
AB: I think its more important now than ever that kids have access to arts education. They are going through their own struggles with so many changes in the past six months. The arts give our children a voice, a way to express themselves, a way to have fun and socialize, and most importantly hope. And we definitely need more of that right now.
TPAC: What can parents do to help further arts learning during this time?
AB: If parents are looking for a way to further arts learning during this time I highly recommend checking out online platforms like Outschool or even picking a night of the week to read and perform stories together as a family. The arts will bring us together even when we feel so far apart.