New Colton Institute extends NJPAC’s commitment to advancing arts education

New Jersey Performing Arts Center

NEWARK, NJ — The New Jersey Performing Arts Center has announced the creation of the Colton Institute for Research and Training in the Arts. Building on NJPAC’s focus on arts education as a means of learning, empowerment, and social and emotional development, the Colton Institute will be devoted to pedagogic research, curriculum creation, teacher training and pre-professional workforce development.

The institute was made possible by a $10 million donation from Judy and Stewart Colton to support arts education programming and research into new arts training techniques.

NJPAC’s dedication to arts education began more than 25 years ago — prior to the opening of the arts center’s campus in 1997. It now offers more than 3,000 arts education classes, residencies and workshops each season, reaching more than 100,000 students and families.

With the Colton Institute, the first-ever research hub and incubator within a performing arts center, NJPAC will have access to a research staff that will allow the arts center to devise ongoing metrics, including both qualitative and quantitative criteria, to study the efficacy of its curricular and pedagogical approaches.

The Colton Institute will also increase the arts center’s education offerings and advance its services for students — many of whom come from economically disadvantaged circumstances — including mentorship and field training, creating a pathway for college and career opportunities in the performing arts, whether onstage, behind the scenes or in administrative offices.

The institute’s work will also allow NJPAC to expand its most effective arts education and teacher-training programs to reach more students; develop a more comprehensive arts training experience for teachers and professionals; identify research agendas and, working in tandem with a team of professional researchers, study and consistently analyze the impact of the arts center’s arts education work; continue to develop NJPAC’s rigorous training for its arts education faculty, enabling the arts center to ensure consistent knowledge and pedagogical practices for all its teaching artists; and develop and disseminate learnings and tested curricula to other performing arts centers, educators and the field at-large on a national level.

“The arts are inherently linked to 21st-century skills such as collaboration, creative problem-solving, critical thinking, and global and cultural awareness. The Colton Institute will allow NJPAC to expand and enhance programs that advance those skills and help our students use them to take the next steps on their journeys. I’m incredibly grateful to the Coltons for their acknowledgement and generous support of this mission,” NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber said.

“This gift is especially personal for us. One of our grandchildren participated in NJPAC’s arts education programs, and we have seen firsthand how transformational that experience can be,” Judy and Stewart Colton said. “As arts center patrons over many seasons, and volunteer leaders engaged in NJPAC’s evolving education work, we wholeheartedly believe in the vision and the objectives of the institute.”

“We see our students discovering things about themselves they didn’t know before. Just watching them open up and change after being a part of some of these workshops is fascinating,” said jazz violinist Regina Carter, a MacArthur “Genius” fellow, composer, bandleader, NJPAC board member and one of the arts center’s teaching artists. Carter is the artistic director of the annual Geri Allen Jazz Camp at NJPAC, a training and mentorship initiative for young jazz musicians identifying as female and nonbinary. “Even if they don’t become professional musicians, these experiences help them to be better listeners, better communicators. They learn how to work together, how to become really good problem-solvers. I know they’ll be better at working as part of a team after this, no matter what careers they pursue.”

“The arts play an undeniable role in the development of children, creating cultural citizens who have knowledge, compassion and tangible skills to better understand themselves and others, which equip them to contribute to society in meaningful ways,” said Jennifer Tsukayama, vice president of arts education at NJPAC. “With Judy and Stewart Colton’s meaningful gift, the research institute affords us the opportunity to assess the impact and effectiveness of NJPAC’s teaching, learning philosophies and programs.”

For more information on NJPAC, its education programs and ongoing initiatives, visit