Orpheum CEO Brett Batterson was playing on a neighbors porch in Davenport, Iowa when an unfamiliar black car pulled up in front of his parents house, and two men in suits got out. The news they brought was bad. Batterson's father had died of a massive heart attack. He was only 30. Batterson was 7. Years later, as CEO of the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, and with that terrible day in mind, he launched Hands Together, Heart to Art
, a one-of-a-kind theater camp for kids who shared his experience of having lost one, or both parents.
"I realized that involvement with the arts and the theater specifically gave me a group of friends I could rely on," says Batterson, who grew up in a creative household with a puppet theater in the basement. "It gave me a place to express myself creatively, and it gave me self-confidence. One of the biggest things councilors see in kids who’ve lost a parent is a lack of confidence." He wanted to replicate that experience, as much as possible, for as many kids as he could reach. Now that he's in Memphis, with the full resources of the new Halloran Centre at his disposal, Batterson has announced the arrival of Mending Hearts,
a similar camp, with similar goals, but a different approach.
"When we were talking to Blue Cross/Blue Shield about funding they said they were interested in programs that had a health aspect," Batterson says. "And I said, well, here’s this one program that we’ve talked about bringing from Chicago. I don’t want people to think we’re doing it just for the funding because this was already on my mind. But that was the motivation."
Mending Hearts is inspired by "the soul of the Chicago camp," according to Batterson. "But it’s different in a few ways," he says. "One of the things that’s different here is that we’re focusing more on the art for art’s sake, and letting some of the healing that comes through creative expression happen more organically than we did in Chicago. Although the counseling is vitally important it will be used to support what they’re doing in the classroom."
A typical day at Mending Hearts camp will include music, acting, and dance classes, visits from guest artists, and time for the campers to bond and share stories.
"The hardest part of the first year is just getting the word out and getting campers," Batterson says. "After that word of mouth takes over."
So tell your friends.
July 10-21, 2017, Monday through Friday, 9 am – 4 pm
Cost: $50 per family; scholarships available — no child will be turned away due to financial hardship
Application Deadline: June 26, 2017 or until all spots are filled.
Before and after extended care available and lunch and snacks provided free of charge.
More details here.