Vanguard announces grants from NJSCA and Tee Rico

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Vanguard Theater Company announced the award of a significant grant from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts for Vanguard’s educational program, DREAM VTC. In addition, Vanguard announced that Tee Rico by Lin Manuel Miranda has become the main sponsor of Vanguard’s 2018-19 season. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts awarded Vanguard Theater Company $15,000 in project support, and TeeRico-Lin Manuel Miranda doubled its general operating support for Vanguard from $5,000 to $10,000.

New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ grant gives project support for DREAM VTC, an educational program that teaches theater skills to teens of diverse backgrounds, while focusing on significant social issues. Students engage in a six-month experience mirroring professional practice and touring sites serving populations without traditional access to the arts.

In its 2018 pilot program, Vanguard’s junior division performed “Children’s Letters to God” at the Barrow Group Studio Theater, while the senior division performed “Two Gentlemen of Verona, the Rock Musical” at the West End Theatre, both in New York City. DREAM VTC then performed selections at Nassan’s Place, an autism after-school program, and the Actor’s Fund’s Lillian Booth senior care facility in Englewood.

“This grant means that we can greatly expand our touring possibilities and reach even more populations that have difficulty accessing live theater,” VTC board President Lynn Irby, who is also principal at South Orange Middle School, said. “We are so proud that we will be able to say: ‘made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Counsel on the Arts’ in our DREAM VTC programs!”

Also, Lin Manuel Miranda Tee Rico is Miranda’s officially-licensed merchandise site at, where every design benefits a cause and/or a creative artist. Miranda is an American composer, lyricist, playwright and actor best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.”

Miranda founded TeeRico to direct awareness to and raise money for causes about which he cares deeply, such as raising money for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, Broadway Cares, Equity Fights Aids and after the Orlando massacre. Vanguard’s mission is to develop and produce transformational theater with an emphasis on diversity, reciprocity, education, awareness and mentorship.

“We are so grateful that TeeRico by Lin-Manuel Miranda renewed its sponsorship of Vanguard,” VTC co-founder and artistic director Janeece Freeman Clark said. “They were incredibly generous to us last year. To have them come back and double their award amount for our upcoming season is a huge ratification of the work we are doing to tell important stories and bring communities together through theater.”