Duke Energy $25,000 grant enables Sumter Opera House to reach thousands of students

SUMTER, S.C. – The City of Sumter is excited to announce its third year partnering with Duke Energy to sponsor tickets for students to see live performances at the Sumter Opera House.  The $25,000 grant will fund a large portion of the budget for the Youth Education Scholarship (Y.E.S.) Program which enables thousands of local students to participate in arts education.


The Youth Education Scholarship (Y.E.S.) Program was created to make it possible for under-served students in Sumter County to attend programming at the Sumter Opera House. Scholarships, made possible through grants from the Duke Energy Foundation and private donations, are available to cover the cost of admission and busing for students on a free or reduced lunch program. Any public school within Sumter County is eligible to apply for funding through the Y.E.S. Program.


“Bringing students to a live performance ignites a child’s imagination in a unique way, opening the door to a greater understanding of the world and life-long love of the arts,” commented Seth Reimer, Cultural Manager.  “We believe in providing this opportunity for as many students as possible and thank Duke Energy for partnering with us to make sure that financial limitations will not prevent any student from attending a live performance.”


“Arts and culture have the power to enhance community vitality,” said Theo Lane, government and community relations manager for Duke Energy. “This is why we invest in community programs like Y.E.S. that provide access to and encourage an appreciation of the arts and culture.”


According to national standards in the visual and performing arts, each school is encouraged to provide a high quality experience in the arts for its students. In education systems strapped for money and increasingly ruled by standardized tests, arts courses can seem a needless extravagance.  As a result, arts are getting cut back at schools across the country, and Sumter County is no exception. 


At the same time that art education programs are getting cut, studies increasingly show that students engaged in the arts are more likely to graduate from high school, obtain gainful employment, complete college, vote, and volunteer in their communities.


Providing matinee shows for students is not enough. A common obstacle for students to attend performances at our venue is the cost associated with admission and busing. Without the option of the Y.E.S. Program, teachers must ask students to bring money from home to go on a field trip, and for some students that is simply not an option which leaves them unable to attend a performance.


A core belief of the Y.E.S. program is that all children should have access to the arts regardless of their economic status. This grant combats the obstacles of admission and busing fees making it possible for up to 5,000 students to experience the arts during the 2018-2019 school year. 

To date, the partnership with the Duke Energy Foundation has enabled nearly 10,000 students to participate in arts education programs over the last two school years.  Each year the attendance at the matinee performances continues to grow which shows the need for this type of opportunity in the Sumter community.