Des Moines Performing Arts (DMPA) welcomed its 10 millionth guest on Oct. 10 at the Des Moines Civic Center. President and CEO Jeff Chelesvig presented local educator, Donna Britt, the honorary title prior to the opening night performance of the Willis Broadway Series’ “Something Rotten!” Britt was selected for her dedicated commitment to arts education. She is credited with bringing 6,000 students to the DMPA school-based Applause Series performances during her tenure at Jackson Elementary.

A Des Moines Public School teacher since May 1975, Britt spent 33 years at Pleasant Hill Elementary School teaching first grade. She moved to Jackson Elementary in May 2008, where she continued teaching first grade until May 2014 when she officially retired. Since then, she has been a substitute teacher at Jackson and continues to coordinate arts education field trips.

DMPA President and CEO Jeff Chelesvig, right, presents local educator, Donna Britt, the honorary title of 10 millionth guest prior to the opening night performance of the Willis Broadway Series’ “Something Rotten!”

On Britt’s behalf, Jackson Elementary was presented a $10,000 gift to commemorate the 10 millionth guest and Des Moines Performing Arts’ ongoing commitment of arts education. To mark this milestone, the gift was personally raised from the DMPA Board of Directors; it will be used to deepen Jackson’s arts education efforts including field trips, artist residencies in the school, and the purchase of musical instruments.

“It is all about the kids. To be recognized is an honor, but the important thing is that the gift can be used to benefit them. I am just a tool to help the kids get exposure to the arts,” said Britt.

Guest Facts to Date:
DMPA calculated the 10 millionth guest figure using attendance and ticket sales data going back to the opening of the Civic Center in 1979. The figure includes guests at the Civic Center, Stoner Theater and Temple Theater.

  • 3,940,301 guests have attended a Willis Broadway series performance, contributing to $30 million in regional economic development annually.
  • 599,193 students and educators have attended special matinee performances as part of the Applause Series. These performances cost only $1 per ticket in order to bring young Iowans’ education to life through theater.
  • Iowans from all 99 counties have attended a DMPA engagement.

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