About Performing Arts Abroad
Performing Arts Abroad (PAA) offers unique and fulfilling international performing arts programs to individuals and groups, enhancing understanding of our diverse world through the transformative arts of theater, music, dance, and film. Our organization sends students and professionals on trips for study abroad, internships, volunteering, and career workshops. PAA believes the experience of cross-cultural collaboration is invaluable for performing artists and is committed to providing international programming of the highest caliber to promote a more global perspective for our participants.
Performing Arts Abroad is based in Northampton, Massachusetts. The idea for Performing Arts Abroad was conceived in February 2009 by Reynolds Whalen, the organization’s Founder and Director. Reynolds studied Drama and African Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he had several opportunities to travel and study abroad. In the summer of 2006, he took courses at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London for one month. That same year he participated in a semester abroad program in Kenya. During his time in Kenya, he interned for a performing arts organization in Nairobi-now called VOCAL-that uses dance, music, and theater for education, development, and social change. The following summer, Reynolds returned to Nairobi and produced a full-length documentary with VOCAL that became the core of his senior honors thesis. This project led Reynolds to further collaboration with the group, and in the spring of 2009 he led nine members of VOCAL to St. Louis to present their educational performances.
Through these experiences Reynolds realized that the performing arts occupy a unique place in all cultures, and that an artist studying his/her craft in a global setting gains specific and marketable skills, but also an incredible insight into the marvelous workings of the human condition. At this point, he began to imagine an organization that could offer opportunities that would achieve both goals. He started to build a network of potential partners and investors who shared similar passions for international performing arts programs.
After two years of initial planning, PAA officially launched in August of 2011. Since then, Performing Arts Abroad has quickly become the foremost leader in study abroad, volunteer, internship, and professional education opportunities for students and professional artists from all over the globe pursuing music, dance, theater, and film.