5 Cultural Non-Profits Spreading Appreciation For The Arts

Watching, studying, and creating art can open one's imagination to previously unexplored avenues. Cultural organizations around the United States are producing and showcasing thrilling new art, from plays to dance performances to films. In no particular order, this list shares some groups working hard to bring the joys of creative expression to the general public.

The #1 entry is the Garden State Film Festival, headquartered in Sea Girt, New Jersey. It was founded to promote the art of filmmaking on all levels by showcasing a wide variety of film, video, and animated works as well as providing educational programs in the creative arts.

The festival was founded by film industry veteran Diane Raver and Hollywood actor Robert Pastorelli. Featured motion pictures are shown primarily in venues in and around Asbury Park, New Jersey, such as The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel. After each screening block, filmmakers participate in a question and answer session.

Taking the #2 spot is the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, which features singers who are everyday community members with diverse backgrounds and professions. MCP has produced a variety of performances, such as the 2018 world premiere of The Times They Are A-Changin’: The Words and Music of Bob Dylan by composer and conductor Steve Hackman.

MCP is a partner of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. It aims to foster the next generation of choral singing and audience members through its educational program, the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. Founded in 1988, JMCP is a high school choral training and performance program.

For #3, we present the Red Mountain Theatre Company, located in Birmingham, Alabama. This nonprofit organizes stage productions with an emphasis on musical theatre. Its Seasoned Performers initiative is meant to celebrate older adult artists by providing performance opportunities for seniors and bringing live shows to special and often underserved audiences.

The Red Mountain Theatre Company Conservatory is a program for young performers. An audition-only, tuition-based program, the Conservatory ensembles rehearse and perform year-round alongside professionals. Rehearsals consist of learning music and choreography for performances, engaging in proper warm-up techniques, and growing skills through education sessions.

Coming in at #4 is the Duluth Playhouse. Founded in 1914, it is one of the oldest, continuously running nonprofit community theatres in the United States. Located in the eponymous Minnesota city, it produces stage performances year-round at three venues: the NorShor, the Family Theatre, and the Underground.

Auditions for the plays and musicals are open to the general public. The playhouse also runs a school of performing arts with classes available to children and adults. Students can learn dance, improv, and other skills for the stage; there are also general movement classes that emphasize fitness.

Finally, at #5, we present the Esquina Tango Cultural Society of Austin. This nonprofit strives to build a vibrant and diverse community in East Austin and beyond through performing arts and health. With an emphasis on Argentine and other Latin American dance traditions, it aims to foster personal wellness while promoting an appreciation for Latino cultures.

The organization was initially only a tango studio but is now a larger cultural center hosting a variety of community events. It offers Spanish and Portuguese language classes as well as several Latin dance classes, including salsa and samba. Private lessons are also available.