Inspiring America


Why We Value the American Alliance for Theater and Education

Inspiring America

The American Alliance for Theater and Education, or AATE, is one of the most well-known nonprofit organizations for arts education and works hard to make sure that every young person experiences theater arts guided by talented artists and educators. Serving more than a million students in forty-eight states and nineteen countries around the world, the group believes that the benefits derived from having early quality education in the arts (focusing primarily in theater) produces well-rounded and cultural individuals for a better society. Emphasizing creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative skills, the AATE strives to raise awareness of the utmost importance of having a theater education while providing its members with services and resources that support young people who want to join theater.


It all began in 1936 when the American Educational Theatre Association (AETA) was formed, promoting the development of theater in education. On the next year during its convention, a program of children’s dramatic activities was scheduled and named the Children’s Theatre Committee, or the CTC. In 1944, the CTC held its first national meeting. Organized by Winifred Ward, it was held at the Northwestern University, where the members voted to continue functioning as an AETA committee. This marked the first annual summer meeting, which became a tradition that continues to this day. In 1951, the committee in the CTC changed into conference.


In 1952, the AETA established an organizational structure and its objectives. It wanted to promote the establishment of children’s theater activities in all communities by education, community, and private groups; it wanted to encourage the raising and maintaining of high standards in all types of children’s theater activities throughout America; and it wanted to provide a meeting ground for children’s theater workers from all levels through sponsorship of meeting both national and regionals, as well as conference committees throughout the year. In 1971, the AETA became the American Theater Association (ATA) but merged with the American Association for Theater in Secondary Education in 1987 to become what it is today.


Embracing diversity and inclusion of all races, social classes, ages, genders, religions, sexual orientations, national origins, and abilities, the AATE’s goal is to create a world where every child has access to drama and theater. It wants every city to have theater for young audiences, have youth centers for all communities, and to have all schools have a theater arts curriculum. Through celebrating the courage and creativity of theater artists and educators, it envisions a world where theater arts becomes a pervasive part of America.


It is a truly worthwhile organization to support.


If you want to know more about the AATE, you can check out its website, or you can tweet me at @RosalieContino or check out my blog  to learn more about theater arts and my book Born to Create.


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by Rosalie H. Contino, PhD