Camden Students Learn Performing Arts Skills, Thanks to Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts Partnership

Sept. 2, 2021

By Tom McLaughlin

Students at Mastery High School in Camden will have a unique opportunity to learn performing and theater arts skills, thanks to an innovative new arts education partnership between the high school and the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts (RCCA).

The two-year Mastering the Performing Arts/Theater Arts program is supported by a $24,960 New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) Arts Education Special Initiative (AESI) grant.

The two-year Mastering the Performing Arts/Theater Arts program, supported by a $24,960 New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) Arts Education Special Initiative (AESI) grant, along with matching funding from other RCCA sources, aims to provide a wide range of learning experiences for students to develop creative decision-making, clarity of conceptualization and expression, craftsmanship, and collaboration. The program will culminate in spring 2023 with a cultural showcase – featuring dance, music, and visual arts – designed and performed by the students.

“Our goal is to create a safe, nurturing space for student growth, parental involvement, and teacher support,” says Carmen Pendleton, community and artist programs manager for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts, who developed the program with Mastery High School staff Andy Boettcher, theater department director, and Carmen Ubarry, family and community engagement manager.

Under Boettcher’s guidance, the program will implement residencies in various technical, aesthetic, and cultural performing arts to enhance the high school’s fledgling theater program and use its renovated theater.

“Our goal is to create a safe, nurturing space for student growth, parental involvement, and teacher support.” – Carmen Pendleton, community and artist programs manager for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts

For the 2021-22 school year, students will learn the basics of performing arts, focusing on four main areas: set design, including construction and painting; technical theater, such as sound and lighting; dance and choreography for the stage; and costume design and makeup.

In the following year, the artist residency program will focus on culture and creativity, and artistic mastery teaching, inspired by modern African and Caribbean arts traditions: African/Latin Dance; music and Brazilian percussion; and visual arts, including large backdrops and sculpture. The students will also take refresher classes on the basic concepts learned during the first year.

Each school year will also include two professional development workshops for teachers and three parent workshops on storytelling and spoken word.

“We ultimately hope to serve Camden schools with an arts education program that can be maintained and one that can serve as a model for other urban school districts,” says Noreen Scott Garrity, associate director of education for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts.

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