Description: In 2000, Santa Fe Opera (SFO) representatives first met with
staff at Chamizal National Memorial, El Paso, Texas, after they heard about the park's successful programming. The
SFO had received a
large grant and wanted to expose outlying communities and students to opera. The park provided a venue for access to
a large underserved audience which the opera wanted to reach. The partnership appealed to the park that has always
looked for opportunities to offer more programming to their cooperating schools.
Under the terms of the partnership, the park provides and prepares the
students for performances. The Santa Fe Opera provides the educational materials, pays for busing, provides the
performers and covers all related costs. Educational materials include study guides and diskettes, which provide an
operatic sampling of the work to be presented and general information on the art form. Generally, performances
consist of 3 apprentices, the educational coordinator and a pianist. During its initial year in 2001, the program
took place over a two-day period and exceeded 2,000 students.
In 2002, 2,653 students from 24 schools came to Chamizal over a three-day period to participate in six
performances. Students from kindergarten to fourth grade are involved in the program in a number of ways. Prior to
the presentation, the educational coordinator talks to the children about the opera, what it is, how to listen, and
how to enjoy it. Following the presentation, the performers come on stage and entertain questions from the
In 2003, the park added another day and two performances and 3,649 children participated. Rangers introduced the
programs and the children are often familiar with the interpreters due to other experiences at the park. Many of the
students arrive "dressed" for the occasion, and all are well prepared for what they are about to see and experience.
Their questions following the performance are telling - they are mesmerized and associate that marvelous experience
with the Chamizal National Memorial and their culture.
Each year the park adds more performances which is a testimony to the success of the program. This past year, opera
performers and the director told the park that "Chamizal National Memorial is our favorite stop. The children are
prepared and ready for the program." This telling comment is reflective of the strong partnership between Chamizal
National Memorial interpretive staff and educators in the many districts of the region.
Geographic area covered: The Chamizal National Memorial includes a visitor center with a gallery
and theater and an outdoor stage. The 55-acre park is located in El Paso, Texas near the U.S.-Mexican border on land
that was once part of Mexico.
List of partners and relationships: Santa Fe Opera and the National Park Service.
Accomplishments to date: Program initially began with two performances and has since grown to
eight. 3,649 grade school children participated in the program in 2003. The number of performance days has increased
from two to four.
Key success factors: Exquisite quality, user-friendly, curriculum support. The Santa Fe Opera pays
for student transportation.
Frustrations: State school testing takes place around the time of the programming, so not all
schools that are interested can participate.
Most important lessons learned to date: Younger children - K-3 - can successfully be included in the
program. There is a hunger in the educational community for programs of high quality designed specifically for young
What would you do differently next time: Nothing. We have a winner; we will continue to nurture
it and continue to build trust.
For more information:
Name: Isabel Montes
Affiliation: Superintendent, Chamizal National Memorial
Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)
Fundraising __; Capital Improvements__; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery _X_;
Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __;
Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts _X_; Information Services __; Transportation __;
Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning __; Tourism __; Community Relations _X_;
Prepared by: Virginia Ness Date posted: 7/1/04
Phone: 915-532-7273 ext. 102