Grant will bring ‘The Lion King’ to Anson Middle

By: By Natalie Davis - The Anson Record

Anson Middle School has been selected to receive “The Lion King Experience,” giving them the opportunity to gain the knowledge of theater and bring the performance to life.

“From a large pool of highly qualified applicants, we have selected your school to receive The Lion King Experience Grant,” the announcement stated. “Making our selection was a difficult task; after weighing various factors, our selection committee is thrilled to offer your school the opportunity to explore, create, and share with The Lion King Experience: JR. Edition.”

The materials in the curriculum will include lesson plans and materials, a director’s guide, scripts, music and DVDs to help with rehearsal, choreography and demonstration.

Leon Gatewood, CEO of HOLLA! Community Development Corporation, said he researched the possibility and realized there was a grant offered by Disney that covers the expense of licensing the rights to produce the show.

“The Lion King is one of the greatest and my favorite theater production of all time,” Gatewood said. “A couple of years ago, I saw a middle school in Charlotte do the play; and from that moment, I thought it would be cool if one of our local schools would do the production.”

Working with the school, they applied for the grant a few months ago.

“The ultimate goal for applying for The Lion King Experience grant fell directly in line with HOLLA!’s goals of providing experiences and opportunities for youth that have the potential of motivating and inspiring them to greatness,” he said. “Our mission is to keep our children prepared for the shifts in education and life in general.”

Gatewood stated that the process for applying for this grant was quite simple once they realized it existed.

He added that as with most grant applications, the work goes into getting the grantors to know where they are sending their support and to convince them that their resources are in the hands of good stewards and will have maximal impact on the community to which it is sent.

“I hope that our children will seize this opportunity to be exposed to the concepts of one of the most remarkable productions in history,” he said. “The theme of claiming your destiny through the rich heritage of your ancestors is something we can all learn from, and studies have proven that youth who participate in the arts are more perceptive, reasonable and are more likely to excel in school.”

The next step is to accept the grant, then to work with Anson Middle School to pull the community together to make this production successful.

“It is obvious that Anson County loves the arts,” Gatewood said. “Having a strong and productive Arts Council in our community was likely instrumental in our receiving this grant.”

The Ansonia Theatre and the Anson County Arts Council keep the community entertained with quality events and productions on a regular basis.

“Because the grant was written by HOLLA! on behalf of Anson Middle School, we will have shared responsibilities with the details being worked out over the next few weeks as we begin receiving information from Music Theater International,” Gatewood said.

He added that they have already reached out to Tommy Wooten, Vera Hosely and others who are equally excited with the opportunity.

“HOLLA! is excited with the opportunity to help with bringing this production to Anson County where we can use it to showcase the talent of our students and the depth of our community’s love for the arts,” Gatewood said.

By Natalie Davis

The Anson Record