Area Businesses and Arts Council Join Together to Sponsor 30th Annual Morris County Teen Arts Festival

More than 2,000 middle and high-school students from the region will gather at the County College of Morris (CCM) to participate in the 30th Annual Morris County Teen Arts Festival on Friday, May 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year’s event is sponsored by the Provident Bank Foundation, Investors Bank Foundation, The Daily Record and the Morris County Arts Council.

“The Teen Arts Festival gives these students the chance to showcase their work and be critiqued by experts in the field,” says Catherine Parrillo, Coordinator of Youth Programs at CCM. Students from public, private and home schools will be sharing their work in fine arts, drama, filmmaking, voice, acting, instrumental music and more. Students also will have the opportunity to attend seminars and classes during the day.

In previous events, students had the opportunity to sample workshops on improv comedy, stage combat, mural drawing, poetry writing, spiritual drum circles or how to make a purse, to name a few.

“People from the region who are accomplished in their fields, as well as faculty, participate in the event,” Parrillo says. Those who have offered advice and support to students in the past have included television and movie professionals, published authors and fine artists.

Many of the participants are students who are planning to enter the arts as a career. “The festival may be the first time that they have been evaluated in the field by anyone other than their school art teachers,” Dr. Jane Armstrong, Dean of Corporate Education, Community Program, and Academic Initiative at CCM says.

In years past, the creative atmosphere of the day resulted in spontaneous performances and unusual fashion statements.

“Two years ago, one of our faculty members set up a coffee house outside in one of our fields,” Parrillo recalls, “Kids who never met each other before picked up their instruments and had spontaneous jamming sessions. It was great to see how music could unite a group of strangers.”

Another year, Butler High School students performed Cats with professional costumes and makeup. They arrived at 7 a.m. to apply their cat personas and left them on after the performance. “All day people dressed like cats were casually walking around the campus,” Armstrong says. It was a strange and humorous sight amidst a day of youthful creative expression.

During the week prior to the festival, artwork is exhibited in the CCM library. On the day of the event, high school students can bring in their art portfolios for review and advice. The top three participants in each creative category go on to the New Jersey Teen Arts Festival to compete with winning artists from throughout the state.

“The Festival is a great experience for them,” Parrillo adds. “To hear an audience clapping and to receive feedback from mentors is valuable. Experts in the field are taking the time to review their work. It is a confidence builder.”

“Schools are losing state support for this event, so we are always seeking sponsors for the Teen Arts Festival,” Armstrong says. Any corporation, organization or individual who is interested in sponsoring the event should contact Joseph T. Vitale, Executive Director of College Advancement and Planning at the CCM Foundation Office by calling 973-328-5060.

Any former student participants who have gone on to work in the arts field are invited to participate as student mentors. To volunteer, call Catherine Parrillo at 973-328-5072 or Dr. Jane Armstrong at 973-328-5083.