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Congressman Donald Payne shows support of Arts Education

Newark, NJ, April 20, 2022 - In the nine years since the launch of Arts For Kids, Founder and Executive Director at Vince Ector has also been a Lecturer of Contemporary Percussion at Princeton University. In that time he has had only one Black first-year student, something he notes with both sadness and determination. Mr. Ector, who sees students at both ends of the age-and learning-spectrum through his work, is committed to offering quality instruction that will better prepare young musicians, particularly those of color like him. “We need to get to them earlier,” he noted.

So when Congressman Donald Payne Jr.’s campaign manager reached out to him as one of the beneficiaries of their recent Challenge America Grant, Mr. Ector knew who to shed the spotlight on. “I am compelled to my county,” Mr. Ector said, speaking about Essex County, though his work at Arts For Kids reaches nearly 6,000 students, parents and educators across the state of NJ, including our students in Newark.

Reflecting support for arts education from the federal level, on April 13, Congressman Payne observed The Arts for Kids Music Mentorship and Preparation Program at the Cicely Tyson School of the Performing Arts in East Orange, which was kicked-off during Black History Month. Over ten weeks, students had the opportunity to work with faculty from renowned music institutions, preparing them for the rigors of conservatory or university auditions. The program’s goal is to improve the participants’ musical skills for more competitive auditions and statewide high school band competitions such as The NJ Regional and All-State Bands.

Arts for Kids is one of only three organizations in New Jersey to receive Challenge America funding for the 2022 fiscal year, providing skill-based instruction in instrumental technique, ear training, theory, sight reading, music history and analysis at the Cicely Tyson School of the Performing Arts. The organization is also the recipient of the NEA American Rescue Plan Grant, making AFK one of only six organizations, including Arts Ed Newark, to receive funding through this grant approved by Congressman Payne.

“It’s thanks to our partnership with Arts Ed Newark that we are able to focus on programs like these during the school year. Connecting on Newark Board of Education’s SummerPlus program boosts our work throughout the summer and builds momentum going into the school year,” Mr. Ector noted.

Arts Ed Newark is grateful to both Congressman Payne and Mr. Ector for their commitment to music education in our young learners’ lives.

The mission of Arts For Kids, Inc. (AFK) is to contribute to the overall success of each individual through meaningful learning opportunities in the arts regardless of age, economic status, and developmental and/or physical disabilities. AFK believes that all individuals can benefit from lifelong exposure to the beauty and power of the arts by sharing the gifts of teaching, creating and performing.

Arts Ed Newark (AEN), which operates under the fiscal umbrella of Newark Arts, is a strategic alliance of over 100 arts education stakeholders who collaborate to ensure all children in grades PreK-12 in the city of Newark have equitable access to high quality, sequential arts education opportunities, both in and out of school.


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