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Partnership with center puts spotlight on fine arts

Inverness Middle School recently entered into a program that will expand the cultural opportunities for not only students, but staffers and parents as well.

The school applied for and received a partnership with the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and the Patel Conservatory. Inverness Middle was one of 10 schools selected from almost 30 entries.

The partnership will allow students, staff members and parents to attend performances and for the students to attend classes. Performances might include a youth orchestra concert or a dress rehearsal of an upcoming production.

Recently, students had the opportunity to travel to the center to watch a dress rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet.

Barbara Dover, Inverness Middle's band and chorus director, sought out the partnership.

"This opens up more availability to the student body for enrichment," she said.

TBPAC and the Patel Conservatory also provide outreach programs. When a school decides to do some type of artistic production involving anything from acting to dance to monologues, the school can request a teacher from the conservatory who will teach a class at the school.

The conservatory is just developing its relationship with Inverness Middle, said Wendy Leigh, the conservatory's vice president of education, but what it can do for the school is limited only by the imagination of teachers and students.

"We want to vary it so they have a well-rounded palette of artistic experience," Leigh said.

She said the conservatory tries to provide at least three opportunities for visits to TBPAC or outreach programs to partnership schools.

Sometimes the opportunities are on short notice, which requires some flexibility. Leigh said the conservatory gets unexpected offers of production tickets, and the partnership schools are the first to hear about them.

Dover is delighted with the partnership.

"I think this is going to be a great opportunity for our students, parents and staff, because fine arts figure into our lives more than we even know," she said.