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Our Mission

The Manton Avenue Project’s mission is to nurture the unique potential of young people living in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood, one of the city’s lowest income neighborhoods, by unleashing their creative voices and uniting them with professional artists to create original theater.

Our Values

Through our long-term, after-school playmaking programs, The Manton Avenue Project (MAP) sparks an ever-expanding sense of possibility by building each child’s capacity for personal and academic success. MAP gives young people tools to become tomorrow’s creative thinkers and community leaders.

Studies tell us that after-school arts programming improves kids’ academic and social skills, and MAP believes that theatre is a powerful vehicle for personal and social change. In each of our after-school programs, MAP offers kids supports and opportunities needed for positive youth development, increasing their self-efficacy and ability to navigate life’s challenges.

MAP encourages young people in Olneyville to find the value of their creative voices by working hard to master the creation of a finished play, and to reap the rewards of that hard work – namely the excitement of seeing their play performed by adult actors, the pride in their accomplishment and the applause of their adoring audience. The children experience successes that can be transferred to other aspects of their lives, and by engaging them in programming for multiple years (we work with the same children for at least five years), MAP regularly reinforces their belief in the capabilities of their imaginative voices.

What We Do

Since 2004, we have been working with children of Olneyville, one of Providence’s lowest-income neighborhoods. The program is modeled after The 52nd Street Project in New York, and engages young people starting in third grade outside of the school setting. MAP programs enhance learning (writing, logic, etc) through playwriting. All the programs are free for participating children and all the shows are free for audiences.

All of the work we do partners youth with adults in mentorship relationships, engages under-resourced children and enhances their learning (of writing, logic, theatre and English, even social studies and science) through playwriting. MAP improves the quality of Olneyville kids’ lives in myriad ways, by providing a safe, fun place to go during out-of-school time, offering a creative space where their ideas are respected and their success is expected. By respecting kids’ ideas and presenting those ideas to public audiences, we are growing their resilience and improving their self-efficacy, both indicators that lead to long-term successes in adulthood.

Our programs include a variety of experiences, including out-of-school classes that culminate in intensive playwriting weekends (see our Programs page). Children are paired with their own dramaturgy mentor to develop their very own plays. The plays written during these weekends are then professionally produced with the help of adult directors, actors, and designers from the vibrant arts community in Providence. Presenting the plays to the public help kids value their voices.

Programs and classes partner children with adults in a mentorship relationship, and the MAP Clubhouse provides a safe and fun place for kids outside of school, offering a creative space where their ideas are respected and their success expected. The new clubhouse allows us to have a more visible presence in the Olneyville community.

HEZ_logoMAP is really proud to be included in Olneyville’s Health Equity Zone three-year-grant through the RI Department of Health. The Olneyville Health Equity Zone seeks to address health disparities in Olneyville caused by social and environmental factors and envisions a neighborhood that can truly thrive with healthy people, a healthy environment, and a healthy economy that offers opportunities to all. We are collaborating with our HEZ partners to make these visions a reality in Olneyville.

Who We Are

The Manton Avenue Project’s company of actors, designers, directors, dramaturges and classroom assistants come from a pool of incredibly talented volunteers who are involved in Providence’s lively performing arts community in many capacities, and work with other local groups like Elemental Theatre, Wilbury Group, Strange Attractor, Gamm Theatre, and Trinity Repertory, to name a few.

Meg Sullivan, Executive Artistic Director

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Meg received her MFA in Performance as Public Practice from the University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance in 2007, and is a company member of Austin-based Rude Mechs. There she served as the co-director of their education program, Grrl Action, from 2008 to 2010, advancing girls’ self-efficacy and resilience through original solo performance works. Meg originated the role of Annabellee in Rude Mechs’ operetta I’ve Never Been So Happy, winner of the NEA’s Distinguished New Play Development Award. It was presented at Arena Stage in Washington, DC in January 2011 as part of the New Play Festival and by the Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in LA in October 2011. Meg is also a dancer and performed for several years with The Meeting Point (chr. Julie Nathanielsz), whose Working the Line performance at the 2011 Fusebox Festival was awarded Best Short Work by the Austin Critics Circle. For Women and Their Work in Austin, Meg coordinated Learning Through the Arts, a professional development program that helped teachers integrate more arts-based lesson plans to core curriculum. Meg taught acting and theatre history at Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin, where she also served as a consultant and workshop facilitator for the Living Newspaper project of the Humanities Institute, and a guest curator, choreographer and director for the Harry Ransom Center.

As a community-engaged artist, Meg creates and performs multi-media performance works that explore issues of place, memory, history, and social justice. Her most recent project, Veja Doolitte: Live in Concert, directed by Susie Schutt, was presented in 2013-2014 at The Wilbury Group as part their new play development program, and at the RISD Museum, as part of Local Acts Exhibit, during a week of performance she curated titled Story-lines. Other performers during this week included Katie Pearl, Nicole Maynard, Kelly Seigh, Stephanie Turner, and Melody Ruffin-Ward.

Email Meg at: meg@mantonavenueproject.org

Emily Lewis, Manager of Programs

Emily LewisEmily Lewis holds a BA in English, and community and organizational studies and an associates degree in foreign language. Emily is a highly regarded actor in Rhode Island. Notable roles include Frankie from Frankie and Johnie in the Clair De Lune, and Ivy in August, Osage County, both at Second Story. Emily has acted in numerous productions across New England, and has volunteered over the past six years as an actor and dramaturge for The Manton Avenue Project. Her favorite MAP roles include the queen in Iysis’s play about chess pieces left behind at the Statue of Liberty, and the dog princess in Andrea’s play about spies in a cat vs. dog battle for water. Recently, Emily coordinated MAP’s summer performance series at the Roger Williams National Memorial and is thrilled to be on board as the organization’s first-ever program manager.

Photo credit: Bonnie Griffin

Kimberly Dahl, Manager of Operations + Development

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Kim joined MAP with over a decade’s experience in higher ed and program development, primarily at the University of Texas at Austin. There she served as assistant director of the Arabic Flagship Program and department manager of Middle Eastern Studies.

Kim received her MA in linguistics at UT Austin where she researched Spanish-English code-switching. Watch the documentary short, Bilingualism in Bayside, Texas, she filmed with UT colleagues here. Kim is now studying speech-language pathology at the University of Rhode Island.

Kim’s favorite things are travel, books, and tacos.

Email Kim: kim@mantonavenueproject.org

View: MAP Board of Directors