Making Music Accessible: New York City Nonprofit Takes Kids Inside Broadway

Top Image © Courtesy of Inside Broadway

By Raye Mocioiu

After nearly 18 months of no Broadway shows during the pandemic, Michael Presser, Executive Director of Inside Broadway, is making up for lost time.

Presser, who has been at the helm of Inside Broadway, a professional New York City-based children’s theater nonprofit, from the very beginning of the program, has long held the belief that art should be available and accessible to all ages—especially children. With that mandate in mind, Inside Broadway is committed to producing Broadway’s classic musicals in a way that is accessible and, most importantly, fun.

Michael Presser, executive Director of Inside Broadway
Michael Presser, executive Director of Inside Broadway © Courtesy of Inside Broadway

Since its inception four decades ago, Inside Broadway has impacted nearly three million New York City public school kids—many of whom have never experienced a Broadway show before. Inside Broadway brings classic Broadway musicals directly into New York City school auditoriums to give the students, teachers, and staff a fun, educational, and safe live
theater experience.

Originally called the Midtown Arts Project, Inside Broadway began as a weekly program in October 1982, where New York City students could watch preview performances of the musical Cats. During the 18-year Broadway run of Cats, the Shubert Organization provided Inside Broadway with 50 tickets to every Wednesday matinee performance, distributed among the city’s under-served public school students.

The program’s success was palpable, with Presser’s phone ringing off-the-hook with calls from parents who wanted their children to get tickets to the weekly shows—the program only had room to grow, and grow it did.

Throughout the years, Inside Broadway has brought professional tours of classic Broadway musicals directly to school auditoriums throughout the city, allowing access to the arts in a way that many kids have never experienced before. The program has also changed shape, expanding from a ticketing service for students to a professional, youth-oriented theater company. Complete with educational programming, Inside Broadway creates a connection between the magic of live performance and the effort that goes into producing each show, introducing a love of theater to the next generation.

Inside Broadway annually serves over 80,000 through in-class residency programs, after-school workshops, and their Creating the Magic series, a careers-in-theater seminar, which connects students with a theater professional to build a musical that can be performed for their friends, family, and school community.

This year, Inside Broadway celebrates its 40th anniversary season. With every passing year, the program proves that the world of Broadway theater is not just about entertainment, it’s about enrichment, development, and ensuring that live theater remains accessible for this generation and the ones to follow.

“Our aim is to pass down the rich legacy of America’s musical theater to future generations so that the magic, music, and universal themes of the genre are not lost, but rediscovered and made relevant for today’s youth,” said Presser.

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