SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The South Orange Performing Arts Center recently received a $5,000 grant from the Investors Foundation. The grant will help further SOPAC’s arts education programs, which invest in students and future artists by providing arts instruction in alignment with NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards for the Performing Arts, enhancing the arts curriculum in local school districts.
“SOPAC is thankful for the Investors Foundation’s support since 2012, which has funded access for thousands of children in the greater New Jersey area,” SOPAC Executive Director Dee Billia said.
The three main components of SOPAC’s arts education programs are:
- Dance residency. SOPAC partners with Alvin Ailey’s arts in education and community programs through AileyDance Kids to provide South Orange–Maplewood School District students with dance instruction in the elementary, middle and high schools. More than 100 students participated this past year and celebrated the end of the course with a performance at SOPAC on Tuesday, April 5.
- Music residency. Since 2015, SOPAC has assisted with music instruction for students in the community. This past year, SOPAC expanded the initiative into Orange Public Schools by providing two teaching–artists-in-residence to support nearly 100 students enrolled in the strings class. Aurora Mendez, fellow at the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, returned as the teaching–artist-in-residence for her fourth consecutive year with the residency. Zach Brown, a cello and chamber music faculty member at the Usdan Performing Arts Camp, the Larchmont Music Academy, and Riverfolk Music and Arts, was brought on to provide comprehensive cello instruction.
- School performances series. SOPAC shifted to virtual school performances in 2020-21 and continued to provide these opportunities this year. Approximately 10,000 students attended virtual school performances. “My students loved it and understood the message. Many had never seen a theatrical performance before,” one teacher said.