Arts Education

Each year the Bowlus Fine Arts Center provides school aged children in Allen County the opportunity to see a live performance on the Bowlus stage – free of charge.  Students enrolled in USD #256 (Moran), USD #257 (Iola) and USD #258 (Humboldt) are invited through their school principals.  Students enrolled in neighboring rural school districts are invited to attend as seating is available.  

Home school families should call the Bowlus Office at (620) 365-4765 or e-mail Traci at for reservations beginning 30 days prior to the event.

The events listed below are scheduled for the 2017-2018 school year.

  • Story Pirates
    Story Pirates

Back by popular demand, The Story Pirates return to the Bowlus stage for the fourth time!  The Story Pirates is a nationally recognized organization created to celebrate the words and ideas of young people. They tour the country performing sketch comedy musicals (think Saturday Night Live for kids) based entirely on stories written by elementary school children.

Top books written through the Allen County Young Authors’ program were selected by committee and submitted to The Story Pirates this summer. The Story Pirates are currently working to narrow the selection down to five and will perform these stories on the Bowlus stage in October!  The stage show includes a mix of their greatest hits along with stories written by our very own Allen County kids. Imagine the surprise . . .you come to the Bowlus with your classmates to see a show and YOUR story comes to life on the Bowlus stage!
Which of our Allen County kids will have their stories performed this year???


  • Photo Ark
    Photo Ark

Joel Sartore is an award-winning photographer, speaker, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic fellow, and regular contributor to National Geographic magazine. His hallmarks are a sense of humor and a Midwestern work ethic. Joel specializes in documenting endangered species and landscapes around the world. He is the founder of the Photo Ark, a 25-year documentary project to save species and habitat.

“It is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity,” he says. “When we save species, we’re actually saving ourselves.”

In addition to educating students on endangered species, he shares “down to earth” information about simple things that every one of us can do to protect the environment and these beautiful creature, including ways for teachers to bring Photo Ark into the classroom.  He also shares inspiring insight with students on what it takes to be a professional photographer and work for National Geographic.

Later that same evening, the Bowlus is hosting a public event featuring Joel and his amazing Photo Ark images and message.  We encourage kids to come back and bring their parents, younger siblings and friends on Tuesday, November 14 at 7:00 p.m.  This is a FREE public event with no pre-registration required.

To visit Joel Sartore's website CLICK HERE.

Check out some of his amazing PHOTO ARK VIDEOS . . . and then imagine seeing these creatures come alive on a giant screen!



  • How I Became a Pirate
    How I Became a Pirate

Ahoy matey! It's time to sail off on a swashbuckling musical excursion with Jeremy Jacob and his new pirate friends. On board the ship, Jeremy travels to new worlds while learning the rules of pirate life, and searches for a place to bury their treasure. But it isn't long before he misses his family and yearns for someone to tuck him in at night back home. A story of adventure and finding one's own heart - a path that can't be found on any map!

The stage production includes terrific songs like “A Good One to Boot”, “Green Teeth”, “I'm Really Just a Sensitive Guy”, “Talk Like a Pirate”, “Soccer by the Rules”, “Pirates Dot Arrgh”, and more… It’s a joyful family musical that is sure to leave young mateys singing and dancing in the aisles!

How I Became A Pirate is based on the children's book written by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon. Music & lyrics for the musical adaptation are by Janet Yates Vogt & Mark Friedman. The musical is being performed by Dallas Children's Theatre which was named by Time Magazine as one of the top 5 children's theater companies in the US, and the only one of that group to tour nationally. This critically acclaimed company travels coast to coast with professional large-scale productions designed to stir the heart, stretch the mind and promote education. 

DCT believes that theater provides a unique learning opportunity that allows children exposure to ideas and imagery which reflect their own experiences and challenge their own understanding of the world in which they live. To this end, Dallas Children's Theater aims to engage and inspire children, to produce theater that reaches beyond the stage.



  • Theater Workshop
    Theater Workshop

Ananda Bena-Weber is a versatile artist who performs throughout the world in the areas of theater, dance, film, television, and commercials. She is an accomplished voice over artist and creates her own finished-product spots in her home studio. Ananda provides workshops and training bringing dancers and actors together to create work that is a conversation, exchange, and a synthesis of natures. She is an adjunct professor at Marymount Manhattan College, and a teaching artist for the Dance Theater of Harlem.

Ananda offers special Tanztheater workshops. The Tanztheater technique formulated by Ananda combines dance, acting, clown and singing using Linklater Voice technique as a synthesizing element to bring the forms together.  She will offer a workshop for Allen Community College dramatic arts students on Thursday, January 18 and for area high school students on Friday, January 19.

To visit Ananda's website CLICK HERE.

Ananda will perform her original stage show FANCIFOOL! in the Dale P. Creitz Recital Hall on Friday, January 19 at 7:00 p.m.  CLICK HERE to learn more about the evening performance and how to purchase tickets!



  • Treehouse_Revised

Who wouldn't want to live in a tree house? Especially a 13-Story Treehouse that has everything; a bowling alley, a secret underground laboratory, and self-making beds, for starters!  Andy and Terry live there, make stories together, and have a series of completely silly adventures…and today's the day they're going to bring those stories to the stage – curtain up! There's just one problem. They forgot to write the play! And where will they find flying cats, a mermaid, a sea monster, an invasion of monkeys, and a giant gorilla?  CDP’s production uses live action, puppetry, music and animation to bring The 13-Story Treehouse to life with a seriously funny cast and magical moments of theatrical wizardry.
The "Treehouse Series" is on the New York Times Bestsellers list for a Children's Book Series, and has been published in over 20 countries (so far). Over the last 15 years, the books have won more than 60 international children’s choice awards and sold over 8 million copies worldwide. The 2013 premiere of CDP Theatre Producers' The 13-Story Treehouse was the largest grossing family show in the history of the Sydney Opera House, only to be outdone in 2014 and 2015 by the sequels The 26-Story Treehouse and The 52-Story Treehouse.

This staged adaptation is based on the multi-award winning book series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton and is produced by CDP Theatre Producers from Sydney, Australia. CDP is Australia’s largest producer of work for young audiences, creating ‘boutique’ theatre of the highest quality since it was established in 1993 by Christine Dunstan. CDP adapts the world’s best children’s books for the stage with Australia’s highest caliber artists. Renowned for their touring expertise, their productions are seen in theatres throughout Australia, in capital cities as well as in metropolitan, regional and remote communities. They also tour internationally including to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (1999 & 2009), London International Theatre Festival (2000) New Zealand (1998, 2010, 2011, 2016), to the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Hong Kong . . .and even to the Bowlus Fine Arts Center in Iola, Kansas!  Wowzers!