Barter Theatre to Take Drama Classes Offstage, into Classroom

ABINGDON, Va. - Students will soon be able to study drama from the experts at Barter Theatre without having to leave their schools, thanks to Verizon Foundation.

At a news conference today in Abingdon, Va., home of the historic theater, renowned actor and Verizon spokesman James Earl Jones presented a check for $50,000 to help Barter launch an interactive distance-learning program.

"Barter Theater has always offered a wealth of educational opportunities to young people," said Robert Woltz, president of Verizon Virginia. "Verizon's grant will extend those opportunities even further. I am proud that we can help bring this wonderful stage into the classrooms of southwest Virginia."

Richard Rose, Barter Theatre's producing artistic director, said, "Barter has a long and proud history as a cultural leader, providing educational experiences for the people of Appalachia. We are proud to partner with Verizon to provide new and innovative educational experiences to our region."

Distance-learning systems are not new to Virginia; schools have been able to receive instructional classes over satellite links for decades. Unlike the older satellite systems, however, today's distance-learning networks are totally interactive - visually and verbally. Students and faculty are able to see one another and communicate spontaneously over the network. And teachers can call on students who raise their hands, much the same as they would in a natural classroom setting.

Barter Theatre, the official state theater of Virginia, takes its name from the practice of bartering. Robert Porterfield, an unemployed actor and southwest Virginia native, opened the theatre in 1933, at the height of the Depression. The price of admission was 35 cents or the equivalent in food. Most patrons brought produce or canned goods. Some of the more unusual items that were used for the admission price included a live hog and a dead rattlesnake.

Today, at least one performance a year celebrates the Barter heritage by accepting donations for an area food bank. Barter's best-known alumni include: Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, Hume Cronyn, Ned Beatty, Gary Collins and Larry Linville.

Verizon Foundation last year awarded 22,000 grants totaling more than $70 million to charitable and nonprofit agencies that focus on improving basic and computer literacy, enriching communities through technology, and creating a skilled work force. The foundation uses its resources in the United States and abroad to develop partnerships in technology and connect them with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence and the economically and socially disadvantaged. The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, an incentive program that last year encouraged Verizon employees to volunteer more than 500,000 hours in their communities and provided $27.8 million in combined contributions to charitable and nonprofit organizations. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $67 billion in revenues and 221,000 employees. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 139 million access line equivalents and 36 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with nearly 16 million long-distance lines. The company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.