EduStar Performing Arts Society, Inc. (EPAS) is the non-profit fundraising wing of Hampton Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama, Inc. and started its work in Hampton, Virginia in September of 2006. Throughout its history its mission has been to teach the performing arts to the youth in the community and then provide performance venues for them to showcase their newly acquired skills.

Over the past 17 years, EPAS together with Hampton Academy has served and provided scholarships for over 300 students through its summer camp program and individual lessons taught throughout the years. Over $11,000.00 in scholarships has been awarded over the past two years.

Founders Roscoe Redcross, Jr. and his wife Dianne Redcross are graduates of Howard University/Teachers College and Columbia University with degrees in music education.  These two remarkable and dedicated people have realized their unselfish dream of providing deserving but financially challenged children with the opportunity to learn the performing arts in a professional setting. Roscoe and Dianne are assisted at EPAS by an outstanding Hampton Academy staff comprised of college and university trained educators and professional performers with years of teaching experience in the performing arts.

Community Impact:  From the 2010 Census, in the area surrounding EPAS, 28.7% of the population is below the poverty level compared to the overall rate of 12.6% city wide.  For children under the age of 18, 53.4% are below the poverty level compared to 19.5% city wide (Tract 120 in the 3rd Congressional District). According to a Hampton Academy/EPAS survey, 100% of the parents have stated that EPAS and Hampton Academy have made a difference in the development of positive self-images in their youth and have also been effective in shaping well-rounded students.  EPAS has many former and current students that are pursuing and/or have careers in the arts, i.e. majoring in the arts in college, teaching and performing.

Recognition:  EPAS has been recognized by the Hampton and Newport News, Virginia school systems as a valuable community resource. Hampton and Newport News have also presented Hampton Academy with city proclamations for their work in the two communities.

History: Passionate arts educators Roscoe & Dianne Redcross saw a need to help students from moderate to low income households gain access to cultural arts programs that were financially out of reach. Through the Redcross’s fundraising efforts, local families finally have an opportunity to participate in a quality performing arts program that is more in line with their budget. In the few instances where even reduced fees were a challenge, EduStar was able to finance their participation at no cost to families. Remarkably, thanks to the generous support of their donors, no child who wanted to participate in their  programs has been turned away.

In 2006 EduStar began sponsoring a summer recital series and musical theater programs in the community. Programs were initially held on site at Hampton Academy’s facility in Hampton, Virginia then later relocated to local middle school auditoriums.

In 2009 EduStar programs were greatly enhanced when they changed venues from middle school auditoriums to a professional theater on the campus of Thomas Nelson Community College. There they are able to create much more professional productions with the benefit of a professional tech crew with sound, lighting and stage management personnel. Their performances were also enhanced by upgraded stage design, props and a professional set builder. With these improvements they were able to produce larger more well-known programming like Little Shop of Horrors, Fame and major Disney productions.

EduStar has served hundreds of students through the years, but because over half are in need of assistance, their focus has been on summer programming. That budget runs $25,000 for professional productions and with that they can accommodate a maximum of 25 students.

In the future, with additional funding, they hope to increase the number of awarded scholarships to deserving children year round to help defray the cost of private lessons. They also hope to continue to partner with local school districts by supplementing their fine arts programs.