Category Archives: Featured

Arts Ed Summer 2018

This summer, arts ed advocates all over the state are gearing up to launch “Arts in Education Week” Sept 9-15 (and throughout September)

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. June 2018

Ahhh June. The end of the school year. The exhilaration of completion.
The anticipation of summer to unwind, rejuvenate and plan for the next year!
In this issue we do the same. We are exhilarated by the very successful 2018 Governor’s Awards for Arts Education and the State Teen Arts Festival.
We unwind as we celebrate a new $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the ARTS ED NOW campaign for the 2018-2019 school year.
And we plan during ARTS ED SUMMER 2018 so we may all utilize Arts in Education week in September to continue to raise the bar for arts education across our state.
But before you join us in any of these activities… please use the link below to email your state legislative representatives to support increased funding for arts and cultural funding in our state.
By working together now and planning for the future we can make 2018-2019 the best year for arts education in New Jersey’s history!

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. May 2018

On Saturday April 28, 2018 the Star Ledger ran my guest editorial titled “The arts are as vital as math. Educators shouldn’t have to defend it.” This is part of the Arts Ed Now campaign efforts to increase visibility for arts education across the state. The same day our partner NJTV screened their documentary “I Can’t… I have Rehearsal” as part of the Montclair Film Festival.
We want to encourage everyone to use both the editorial and documentary as important tools in spreading the word about the importance of arts education for everyone.
Be sure to post, share (in newsletters and other materials) and disseminate to other advocates, parents, administrators and others who can make a difference for arts education in your communities.

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. April 2018

Arts in Our Schools Month Recap
March was a very busy month for arts education across the state and all of us at Arts Ed NJ were happy to assist many of the groups across the state to promote arts education and the ARTS ED NOW Campaign. Here are some highlights:


Few Active in Promoting Arts Education in Schools and Communities

WARREN, N.J. – Most Monmouth and Ocean County citizens believe arts education is important for students, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in partnership with Arts Ed NJ for the Arts Ed Now campaign and the mindALIGNED initiative. Nine in 10 Monmouth and Ocean County residents say that receiving an education in the arts – which includes lessons in dance, music, theater, visual arts, media arts, and other forms of creativity – is “very” or “somewhat” important in the classroom (90 percent), through before or after school programs (90 percent), and through cultural organizations in their community (87 percent).

Likewise, half or more of residents believe arts education is just as important as a whole range of other subjects, including English language arts (59 percent), science (54 percent), social studies (59 percent), health and physical education (53 percent), math (49 percent) and world languages (49 percent); a plurality feel this way when arts education is compared to computer science (43 percent) and career and life skills classes (38 percent).

Furthermore, Monmouth and Ocean County residents believe that arts education can help students “a lot” in becoming more creative and imaginative (87 percent), building confidence (81 percent), improving communication skills (74 percent), becoming more tolerant of other cultures (66 percent), developing discipline and perseverance (67 percent), improving overall academic performance (56 percent), or gaining workforce readiness and career skills (52 percent).

Yet while Monmouth and Ocean County residents largely agree that arts education is an essential part of learning, they are somewhat mixed on how well it is being taught. When asked to grade how they feel public schools in their area are doing in terms of providing arts education, 16 percent of residents award an “A” letter grade, 32 percent a “B,” and 26 percent a “C.” This is slightly lower than the average grade residents assign to other core subjects like math (28 percent “A’s”), English (26 percent “A’s”), science (33 percent “A’s”), and social studies (19 percent give “A’s”), as well as computer science (22 percent “A’s”), world language (22 percent “A’s”) and physical education (24 percent “A’s”). Only life skills classes (11 percent “A’s”) receive worse grades than the arts from Monmouth and Ocean County residents.

Monmouth and Ocean County residents are also mixed on whether students have enough opportunities to participate in arts education in the classroom during the school day (22 percent “strongly agree” that they do, 32 percent “somewhat agree”), through before or after school programs (24 percent “strongly agree,” 38 percent “somewhat agree”), or through community organizations (16 percent “strongly agree,” 34 percent “somewhat agree”).

A plurality of Monmouth and Ocean County residents (39 percent) believe their local public school district does not spend enough on arts education; 36 percent believe their local district spends the right amount, and just 4 percent believe their district spends too much. When it comes to the arts, in general, almost all residents believe they should be funded by government in some form – whether by local government (14 percent), state government (17 percent), or both (61 percent).

Despite considerable support for the arts, sizable numbers don’t participate in activities that help to promote and increase arts education. More than half have not taken a child to a program or event (55 percent), donated or raised money (66 percent), volunteered (68 percent), or shared something on social media related to the arts (57 percent) in their local schools or communities within the past year. Almost half have not discussed arts programs or events with others (45 percent), nearly four in 10 (37 percent) have not attended an arts program or event themselves, and over a third (37 percent) have not encouraged a child to participate in an arts program or event. One in five residents have not done any of these activities.

Moreover, nearly half of respondents have not spoken about arts education in any way – whether with teachers, school administrators and elected officials, or in public meetings or on social media.

“This survey confirms what we have long suspected,” stated Robert Morrison, co-director of Arts Ed NJ. “While there is almost universal support for arts education in our schools, the public does not believe there is enough emphasis on, or resources to support, these programs. As the state transitions to focusing on a ‘well-rounded education’ as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, this is an important moment for districts across the state in general, and Monmouth and Ocean Counties in particular to examine their arts education programs and look for ways to improve opportunities for all.”

One program extolling the virtues of arts-rich schools and communities is mindALIGNED, an effort spearheaded by the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre, in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, OceanFirst Foundation, Monmouth University, county freeholders and arts councils and the Monmouth County Department of Education.

mindALIGNED’s innovative approach provides schools with professional development, program materials, follow-through and data to support its mission of creative learning and teaching. By 2030, the mindALIGNED goal is for every school district and community in Monmouth and Ocean counties to be designated as arts-rich.

“People value the arts and understand its importance,” says Adam Philipson, President and CEO, Count Basie Theatre. “But as the data supports they may shy from taking that extra step of participating — and this exactly what mindALIGNED strives to improve. Our goal is making the classrooms more creative and the arts more accessible and prevalent in Monmouth and Ocean counties.”

Results are from an oversample of a statewide poll, which included 200 adults from Monmouth and Ocean Counties, contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Aug. 24-28, 2017. The sample has a margin of error of +/-8.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

About Arts Ed NJ

Arts Ed NJ is the unified voice for arts education in New Jersey. Formerly the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, Arts Ed NJ was founded in 2007 by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Department of Education and Music for All Foundation with additional support from the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation. The mission of Arts Ed NJ is to provide a unified voice for a diverse group of constituents who agree on the educational benefits and impact of the arts, specifically the contribution they make to student achievement and a civilized, sustainable society. Additional information is available at www.artsednj.org.

About mindALIGNED

mindALIGNED is a creative learning initiative which provides arts-based professional development strategies to Monmouth and Ocean County teachers. mindALIGNED’s mission is noble: a reinvigoration of learning, greater engagement and test scores, and a brighter classroom experience for teachers, students and parents alike. By 2030, the goal is for every school district and community in Monmouth and Ocean counties to become mindALIGNED and designated as arts-rich.

mindALIGNED is a collective impact initiative spearheaded by the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, OceanFirst Foundation, Monmouth University, Arts Ed NJ, county freeholders and arts councils and the Monmouth County Department of Education. mindALIGNED’s arts partners include the Algonquin Arts Theater, the Garden State Philharmonic, Lakehouse Music Academy, Two River Theater and Young Audiences For Learning. For more information, visit www.mind-aligned.org

About Arts Ed Now

Arts Ed Now is a statewide campaign to increase active participation in arts education in all schools in New Jersey. Studies show that students who participate in arts education do better in school and in life. Unfortunately, not all NJ students have the access or information to increase their participation in arts education. The Arts Ed Now campaign identifies ways to increase participation in arts education and garner public support to put a spotlight on the issue – and is designed to be customized at a local grassroots level for more impact. The “Campaign Central” website www.ArtsEdNow.org features stories, tools and ways for citizens to become better ambassadors – together. This project is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R Dodge Foundation, Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visitwww.arts.gov.


See the Results

Guest Blog: AENJ Youth Art Month “Building Community Through Art”.

The theme for the 2017/2018 school year is “Building Community Through Art”.

Youth Art Month is a celebration of the visual arts!  The Council for Art Education (CFAE) administers Youth Art Month. Youth Art Month encourages support for quality school art programs, and promotes art material safety. The Council for Art Education (CFAE) administers the program at the national level. The program provides a medium for recognizing skills developed through visual arts experiences unlike any other curriculum subjects, including:

  • Problem solving

  • Creativity

  • Observation

  • Communication

Art shows, special exhibits, fundraisers, and school and community activities take place annually, traditionally during March, to celebrate visual art education for grades K – 12.

Started in 1961 through The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI), Youth Art Month exists to:

  1. Recognize art education as a viable factor in the total education curricular that develops citizens of a global society.

  2. Recognize art is a necessity for the full development of better quality of life for all.

  3. Direct attention to the value of art education for divergent and critical thinking.

  4. Expand art programs in schools and stimulate new art programs.

  5. Encourage commitment to the arts by students, community organizations, and individuals everywhere.

  6. Provide additional opportunities for individuals of all ages to participate in creative art learning.

  7. Increase community, business and governmental support for art education.

  8. Increase community understanding and interest in art and art education through involvement in art exhibits, workshops, and other creative ventures.

  9. Reflect and demonstrate the goals of the National Art Education Association that work toward the improvement of art education at all levels.

We are also happy to note, that New Jersey has won the CFAE Award of Excellence for the past two years, for their Youth Art Month work.  In addition, the Art Educators of New Jersey (AENJ), also awards and recognizes its members who excel in their Youth Art Month activities.  Yearly at their Fall Conference, AENJ honors members with the Linda Lora Pugliese YAM Award and the Lynn Dodson YAM Award of Excellence.  The Linda Lora Pugliese Award was established to honor former President, Linda Pugliese, whose dedication to Youth Art Month was rewarded with the first National Claire Flanagan Grand Award. This award recognize a current county YAM chair or the leadership team who has done the most to increase support for quality art programs and exhibits through the medium of Youth Art Month. The Lynn Dodson YAM Award of Excellence was established to honor Lynn Dodson who was the first New Jersey recipient of the Youth Art Month NAEA Award of Excellence. This award recognizes a county YAM chair, co-chair or an individual AENJ member who has demonstrated an outstanding support for Youth Art Month activities.

In New Jersey, we celebrate Youth Art Month with seventeen county art shows, and a State Exhibition and Reception.  Over 100 teachers will submit their students’ artwork to be exhibited at the State YAM Reception, which will take place at the Statehouse and Annex in Trenton, New Jersey from March 3 to March 9, 2018.  In the past, we have received and displayed six of the best 2D pieces from K-12 student artists from each county in the state.  This year, we are expanding our YAM Exhibit by including 3D pieces!  These pieces will be submitted as high-quality, matted or mounted pictures, and will displayed as part of our YAM State Exhibit.  Each county is allowed up to three 3D entries from any grade level, which brings our total number of student art pieces on display to nearly 200!!!  On Friday, March 9, AENJ will hosts two Receptions and Awards Ceremonies for the students whose work has been selected.  The High School Reception will feature a guest speaker, followed by an evening reception for K-8 students and their families.

New Jersey State YAM Chairs: Kristy Lopez & Karen Mannino:  yam@aenj.org


Exhibit: March 3 – 9, 2018

Location: Capitol Building Annex Tunnel, 125 West State Street, Trenton, NJ

Reception – Friday, March 9, 2018, Capitol Building Annex Committee Rooms 4&5, 125 West State Street, Trenton, NJ

High School Reception (Grades 9-12): 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm, Awards Ceremony at 1:00 pm

Elementary Reception (K-8): 5:30 pm to 7:45 pm, Awards Ceremony at 6:30 pm



Exhibit: March 2nd-March 27th

Location: Noyes Art Garage of Stockton University, 2200 Fairmont Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ

Reception: Saturday, March 10, 11:30am-1pm



Exhibit: TBD

Location: Bergen County Plaza Offices, 1st Floor Lobby/Conference Room, One Bergen County Plaza, Hackensack, NJ

Reception: TBD



Exhibit: TBD

Location: WIlliam G. Rohrer Library, 15 MacArthur Blvd. Haddon Township, NJ

Reception: TBD



Exhibit: TBD

Location: TBD

Reception: TBD



Exhibit: March 2 – March 16, 2018

Location: Greater Bridgeton Family Success Center, 155 Spruce Street, Bridgeton, NJ

Reception: Friday, March 2, 2018   6:30pm-7:30pm



Exhibit: TBD

Location: Essex County Hall of Records, 465 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Newark, NJ

Reception: Friday, March 23, 2018  12:00pm



Exhibit: TBD

Location: Liberty Science Center, 222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City

Reception: TBD



Exhibit: TBD

Location: Hunterdon Health and Wellness Center, Clinton, NJ

Reception: TBD



Visit Mercer YAM on Facebook and Twitter @mercer_nj_yam

Exhibit: March 2nd – April 14th

Location: Artworks Trenton, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton NJ  (http://artworkstrenton.org/)

Reception: Saturday, March 10th, 2018 2:00pm-4:00pm

The Mercer County YAM website is:


The Mercer County YAM twitter handle is:





Exhibit: TBD

Location: Middlesex County College, Student Gallery in the College Center, 2600 Woodbridge Ave, Edison

Reception: TBD



Exhibit: TBD

Location: CVA Gallery Brookdale Community College, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ

Reception: TBD



Position Open, contact yam@aenj.org to get involved!

Exhibit: TBD

Location: TBD

Reception: TBD



Exhibit: TBD

Location: Ocean County Library – Brick Branch, 301 Chambers Bridge Road, Brick, NJ

Reception: Thursday, March 29, 2018  6:00pm-8:00pm



Exhibit: March 4th – March 21st

Location: Louis Bay 2nd Library, 345 Lafayette Ave, Hawthorne, NJ

Reception: Thursday, March 21st, 2018 6:00-8:00pm



The Somerset YAM teacher website is: https://sites.google.com/site/somersetyouthartmonth/

Exhibit:  Exhibit 1 (K-5) March 6-11th; Exhibit 2 (6-12) March 14-25th

Location: The Center for Contemporary Art (CCA), 2020 Burnt Mills Road, Bedminster, NJ

Reception:  Exhibit 1 (K-5) Reception March 11th 2-3:30pm; Exhibit 2 (6-12) Reception March 25th 2-3:30pm



Exhibit: TBD

Location: Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council Gallery

Reception: TBD



The Union County YAM teacher website is:


Exhibit:  March 1 – March 23

Location: The Plaza @ Elizabethtown Gas Company/Liberty Hall Center, 1085 Morris Ave., Union, NJ

Reception: Friday, March 23, 2018 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm


WARREN (see Hunterdon & Warren above)

Exhibit, Location, Reception – see above Hunterdon & Warren

The 2018 New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival

This March marks the kick off to the series of Teen Arts series Festivals occurring in New Jersey March through June leading up to the culminating event, the 2018 New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival which will take place May 30 through June 1 at Ocean County College in Toms River. All New Jersey students, ages 13-19, and teachers are invited to attend. The month of March is jam packed with County Teen Arts Festivals in 6 different counties; Burlington, Monmouth, Ocean, Sussex, Union and Warren. Please review the end of this article for the Full Teen Arts Calendar.

The New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival will include many of last year’s features, such as Student Showcases and displays in the literary, visual and performing arts by the top students selected from each county, Professional Development Workshops for teachers presented by Arts Ed Now and Appel Farm Arts & Music Center, Master Class Workshops for students taught by professional artists, College Fair comprised of top arts programs and Daily Guest Performances during lunch.

A New Jersey filled with youthful minds yearning to connect with others to communicate their personal perspectives is a New Jersey that will raise its youth to thrive as they grow to become the future world leaders. The individual connections made at the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival will lead to the collective efforts that as a grand-all-inclusive community we can support arts education across the state.

Students desiring to showcase their creative talents must be nominated by their home County Teen Arts Festival in order to showcase for adjudication at the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival. If a student’s county does not have a festival, he or she can be nominated through the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival virtual nomination process.

All schools must complete and submit a school registration prior to attending the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival. Registrations are now being accepted online at njteenarts.com and via postal mail. Registrations will be accepted on a rolling basis up until the first day of the festival on May 30th . However, it is recommended registrations are submitted early in order to get priority placement in the showcase, and adjudication scheduling.

Finally, Nominations for the Arts Educator of the Year award are still being accepted until March 30th. Nominations may be submitted online here: https://www.njteenarts.com/aey/

For more detailed information on festival registration, showcase/adjudication process or the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival visit www.NJTeenArts.com, call 732-566-ARTS (2787) or email harrison@NJTeenArts.com.

Harrison H. Haney is the coordinator for New Jersey State Teen Arts. He can be reached at harrison@njteenarts.com.

2018 Teen Arts Festival Calendar

Warren County

Tue, Mar 13 & Wed, Mar 14 | Lackland Center at Centenary University 715 Grand Ave Hackettstwon, NJ 07840

Burlington County

Wed, Mar 14 & Thu, Mar 15 – Rowan College – 900 College Circle, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

Monmouth County

Thu, Mar 15 & Fri, Mar 16 | Brookdale Community College – 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738

Union County

Thu, Mar 15 & Fri, Mar 16 | Union County College – 1033 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, NJ, 07016

Sussex County

Tuesday, March 20 | Sussex County Community College – 1 College Hill Road, Newton, NJ, 07860

Ocean County

Tue, March 20 & Wed, March 21 | Ocean County College – 1 College Drive, Toms River, NJ, 08753

Cape May County

Thursday, April 12 | Cape May Convention Hall, 714 Beach Ave, Cape May, NJ 08204

Cumberland County

Friday, April 13 | The Levoy Theatre – 126-130 N High St, Millville, NJ 08332

Gloucester & Salem County

Friday, April 20 | Appel Farm Arts and Music Center – 457 Shirley Rd, Elmer, NJ 08318

Atlantic County

Friday, April 27| Art District of Hammonton – 219 Bellevue Ave, Hammonton, NJ 08037

Somerset County

Wednesday, May 16 | Raritan Community College – 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg, NJ, 08876

Bergen County

Friday, May 18 | Bergen Community College – 400 Paramus Road, Paramus, NJ, 07652

Morris County

Friday, May 18 | County College of Morris – 214 Center Grove Road, Randolph, NJ, 0786

Mercer County

Friday, May 18 | Mercer County College – 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor Township, NJ, 08550

Hudson County

Tuesday, May 22 & Thursday, May 24 | NJ City University – 2039 Kennedy Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ, 07305

New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival

Wed. May 30, Thur. May 31 & Fri. June 1 |   Ocean County College – 1 College Drive, Toms River, NJ, 08753


Guest Blog by Alyssa Sileo of The Laramie Project Project

Thanks to my arts education, I can say that, as an 18-year-old, I feel entirely equipped to address all that life can throw at meーwith excitement and curiosity.

It’s not only the “special skills” section of my résumé that is augmented by my theatre experience. Interpersonal communication and public speaking skills will never go without use, but something often unidentified that arts ed has helped me and every other student to develop is a strong set of values.

My internal inclinations toward choosing generosity and standing up for others is due to the multiple perspectives that theatre challenges me to consider, along with the historical accounts and cultural experiences that are celebrated within the arts. And since theatre and the arts take the concept of “hands-on” education to the next level, I recognize a specific, ongoing segment of my life that required me to:

1) become a breathing-encyclopedia of a docu-play,

2) build an international community from a Google account,

3) and get really good at writing email pitches.

It’s thanks to a theatre teacher and the compassion of other theatre teachers from around the world that I’ve discovered my own life purpose, and that I am working to help others find their own.

In the summer of 2016, it was announced that our Junior Class Production would be The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Project. This play uses found texts and interviews to chronicle the response of the 1998 hate crime against Matthew Shepard, a young advocate and gay University of Wyoming student. While this wasn’t the first hate crime ever, it was one of the first anti-gay acts of violence that caught worldwide attention and started a wave of fighting for hate crime legislation.

I was immediately struck by the incredible script and powerful story. As a theatre artist and an out LGBTQ+ teen, I know my performance of Laramie would be the ultimate synthesis of my earnest passion for equality. In the middle of a conversation with my drama teacher and director of the play, Ms. Kirstin Lynch-Walsh, at a Thespian troupe meeting, I expressed my want to create some kind of project in tandem with Laramie so I could maximize its impact on our school and greater community.

Her: “Well, I want to connect 49 Laramies to honor the 49 Pulse victims.”
Me: “…Okay. Wow. That’s it, I’m taking that.”

Since then, our The Laramie Project Project (or LPP) has grown into a theatre advocacy and education initiative that unites and catalyzes worldwide productions and readings of the play to honor victims of current hate crimes.

In the early days of the project: In between (and sometimes during) biology classes, amidst college research, and throughout intermission conversations, along with the support of upperclassmen and my drama teachers, I reached out to hundreds of high schools, theatres, and advocacy groups and encouraged them to set up events and spaces to bring Laramie to their communities. I scoured Facebook event pages for Laramies in the rehearsal process so I could ask them to add the LPP element of dedicating their production to someone we had lost to the horrific hate crime that was, at the time, the worst mass-shooting on American soil.

I watched the LPP go from a state project, to a regional project, to a national project, and, thanks to the power of social media, an international project. Production managers, directors, teachers, and passionate student leaders embraced our initiative and expanded our reach.

To date, we connect with 66 LPP events in 23 states and three other countries. High school Thespian Troupes and Gay-Straight Alliances, colleges, pro and amateur theatres, and community and religious groups have shared the story of Laramie with their hometowns, creating a loving tribute while making a statement that hate crimes can never be normalized, ignored, or tolerated. We began by honoring the Pulse victims, and since every name has since been honored in towns across miles and the seas, we have expanded to a larger list of people to memorialize, which makes for partnerships with the organizations Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Dru Project.

The LPP Family advocates for arts education by providing the opportunity for theatre programs to put up a unique event that challenges their students to act as artist-advocates. By bringing communities together and educating audiences, it becomes clear that arts spaces are essential to cultivating compassion and acceptance. Being a Production-Companion Project, we also encourage students to construct their own PCPs for their school’s season. It’s my belief that every piece of the theatre catalogue has an advocacy-initiative inside of it, and that students are the ultimate vessels of these.

We are actively working to make mounting an LPP event as accessible and cost-free as possible for programs that may lack funding. The play already serves as a low-maintenance and all-the-while effective theatre piece. The casting size is super flexible, and as for the technical elements, it requires a minimal set, since locations switch frequentlyー from moment-to-moment. (However, we are never ones to quickly leave out our student tech-artists, so it must be noted that a Laramie with extensive tech elements is remarkably compellingーlots of use of video and pictures and other media is commonly found.)

Being a member of International Thespian Society (sponsored by the Educational Theatre Association) has been an extreme source of guidance and assistance in broadening this project’s geography. Since I can identify myself along with 2,300,000 students and alumni and who share similar and different Thespian traditions, we have a wonderful and immediate common ground to build upon. Leaders of ITS and EdTA have also been committed to sharing our mission on their social media accounts.

There is a subset of the LPP Family that, time and time again, exude the care and kindness that keeps this project alive. It’s the theatre teachers, who, despite their busy schedules and theatrical seasons, commit to our initiative. Through their advocating of our LPP, I learn how to make it better. While attending Thespian Festivals and LPP events, I am constantly inspired by these figures. They are the anchors of these students, gifting them with an outlet for expression and chances to name their goals. I also enjoy those looking-glass moments when I meet the students who bring LPP to their schools, and promote us on social media better than I ever can. They’re the future theatre educators.

I have been granted unthinkable gifts thanks to the LPP, namely establishing and maintaining connections with the aforementioned organizationsーincluding contact with the actual Tectonic Theater Project, who have been such strong supporters of us! I’ve additionally been granted times of being surrounded, whether digitally or physically, by luminaries of every age and background. I think about how my definition of artist has been wildly revolutionized throughout every phase of this process, and happily await for the forthcoming moments of surprise. Theatre-makers must serve as the caretakers of equality; that’s something I know for sure.

The LPP is a joyful responsibility I will carry from high school to college and beyond, because my love for and trust in this play drives me to adding to its legacy.

Arts Ed NJ is the champion of the unreplaceable aspect of a student’s academic and personal development. Research, personal stories, and our own experiences persist to be proof that the arts in schools reap immeasurable benefits, all the while doing so in brilliant, lovely, unifying ways. I am a lifelong supporter of Arts Ed NJ because I know if not for a Thespian troupe to have a meeting for, and if not for a drama teacher to sponsor our troupe and and put on a production of Laramie, I am unsure if we would have reached the thousands of people that have (and will continue to) reach. I am unsure if we would have been able to honor the lives brutally stolen from the world. I am unsure if we would have been able to assure another LGBTQ+ student in an LPP event that they have a right to a safe and happy life.

Being a project without an identifiable financial process at the homebase, it’s every single platform that has ever shared our initiative with their audience or offered the smallest, kindest word, contribute to the fuel that keeps it running. So, all of my thanks to Arts Ed NJ, for not only what you have done to spread the message of our project, but also for what you do for students and the NJ community every day.

If you want to read more about the LPP, please check out our website, along with our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. We are always accepting registration from any group (theatre or otherwise) along with any and all inquiries at this link and thelaramieprojectproject@gmail.com.

New Jersey Thespians are proud to be joining the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education this year!

NJ Thespians is the state chapter of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), which sponsors the International Thespian Society (ITS), a theatre honor society.  It is our mission to promote, strengthen, and advocate for theatre arts education in New Jersey’s schools.

EdTA is a national nonprofit organization with approximately 90,000 student and professional members. EdTA’s mission is shaping lives through theatre education by: honoring student achievement in theatre and enriching their theatre education experience; supporting teachers by providing professional development, networking opportunities, resources, and recognition; and influencing public opinion that theatre education is essential and builds life skills.

The International Thespian Society is the Educational Theatre Association’s student honorary organization. ITS recognizes the achievements of high school and middle school theatre students. Since 1929, EdTA has inducted more than 2.3 million Thespians into ITS. They currently offer more than 4,700 programs across 50 states and 13 countries.

NJ Thespians offers both a high school and middle school Thespian festival every year. Our high school festival boasts more than 1,000 students. At this event we host technical and performance awards, scholarships, workshops, college auditions, and more. Our middle school festival boasts more than 100 students. At this event we offer performance awards, workshops, and a school showcase. We have a student and an adult board for each of these festivals. We are currently working with Rodgers and Hammerstein on producing our first All State Musical Be More Chill.

We are so excited to be a part of the committees this year. Serving on the Steering Committee will be Jason Wylie who serves as our Student Thespian Officer (STO) Coordinator and our Alumni Coordinator. He will also be the Stage Manager for Be More Chill. Jason is currently a student at Rowan University who is focusing on getting his BA in Theatre with a concentration on Tech/ Design and Theatre Education. Jason costumes both main stage shows at Northern Burlington County Regional High School. He is also the co-coach for their Forensics Team. Serving on the Planning Committee will be Scott Cooney who serves as our Score Room Coordinator, Awards Coordinator, and our Webmaster. He will also be directing Be More Chill. Scott is the CTE Acting/ Theatre instructor at BCIT Medford’s Academy of Performing Arts. He created the curriculum based on collegiate acting programs and is responsible for training the students majoring in acting at the academy as well as directing the plays and musicals.

This year we are happy to offer the following Governor’s Awards:

  1. Musical Solo
  2. Musical Duet
  3. Musical Group
  4. Contrasting Monologues
  5. Best Overall Chapter Select Play
  6. Short Film


Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. January 2018


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June 12, 2018
Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. June 2018

Ahhh June. The end of the school year. The exhilaration of completion. The ...