Arts School Survives Pandemic, Parents Rally in Support

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Almost nothing was left untouched by COVID-19, including the arts. An Irving business owner and community were determined to make sure children have an outlet for expression.

There was a time over the last year when Zoe Madewell wasn’t sure what the future would look like. The idea of children performing on stage in front of an audience of proud parents seemed out of reach. The pandemic’s far-reaching impact didn’t spare her company RBR Muzik – a music, dance and performance school based in Irving.

“I actually had to close my doors,” Madewell said. “I had clients call me and say their mom or dad lost their job and they had to stop music or ballet lessons.”

To stay afloat, she hosted what’s called a play-a-thon -- a fundraiser performance to keep the doors open during the pandemic. Madewell and her staff dug in their heels, shifted to online courses and even attracted a whole new crop of students.

Fifteen months later, some 200 students performed at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas Sunday night. Parents expressed thankfulness for the growth they’ve seen in their children’s talents.

“I’ve seen a lot of expression with him with music when he hears things on the radio, he recognizes tunes, and he thinks about the piano more when he hears them in songs,” said Kim Nickerson of her 7-year-old son.

The resilience is heard in each performance. Madewell -- the first of 10 children with few resources for the arts -- knows this has an impact well beyond this one night.

“I give credit to mentors, and I give credit to prayers. Our parents believe in what we’re doing,” she said. “The word is hope. It gives me hope. I’m feeling like there’s nothing that we cannot do.”

A portion of all proceeds from Sunday’s concert will go to the Finding Mozart Project – which will provide scholarships for children who want lessons in the arts.

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