(DECEMBER 9, 2015 – RED BANK) Capitalizing on the belief that a strong community is forged by strong partnerships, the Count Basie Theatre next week will conclude its heralded “Arts For All” project with Red Bank’s Middle School.

“Arts For All” is an innovative, 12-week program that provides various forms of arts instruction to every grade level at the middle school. Visual and performing arts standards are encouraged; fourth graders are learning cultural dance, while fifth graders are taking hip hop dance classes. Sixth grade students are taking theater classes, and seventh graders are learning percussion.

In the eighth grade, students are taking part in a Rwandan literacy arts project in which they create a chapter and illustrations for a book that will be used to teach English as a second language to students at that nation’ Kampanga and Bisate schools. The drawings by the eighth graders will be printed onto wall tiles that will be incorporated into the décor of one of the schools in Rwanda, and incorporated into a book to be published for Rwandan students interested in learning English.

Stacy Sherwood, the school’s supervisor of curriculum and instructional ELL, bilingual and world language programs, says “Arts For All” is a hit.

“Students in the hallway were overheard saying, ‘I wish every day was Tuesday,’” she said. One of her students added, “Learning about Rwanda was like going into a dream and seeing how it is over there,” while another shared her reaction to the seventh grade percussion project: “At first I didn’t take it seriously at all, but then we watched videos of other people making music, and I started to get interested. The music played in the videos was beautiful! I realized how easy it really was once I started to get serious.”

“At the core of our recently announced expansion plans is our education and outreach programs,” said Adam Philipson, Count Basie Theatre CEO & President. “This new and deeper partnership with the Red Bank Middle School will instill a passion for the arts among students and create a replicable model for the 21st century. We applaud parents, teachers, administrators and the students for supporting this new program, and we look forward the possibilities of growing it in the future.”

The “Arts for All” program is being administered and funded in part by the Count Basie Theatre, which is raising money by donating $10 from every ticket sold for the Bobby Bandiera & Friends HOPE 8 concert, which will be held on December 23rd at the theatre. With few tickets remaining and a separate campaign conducted by the Basie in October allowing online ticket buyers to donate $3 to “Arts For All”, a total of $14,900 has been raised for the program.

“The Arts For All initiative was launched based, in part, on meetings held in my office with passionate Red Bank parents, our dedicated Superintendent Jared Rumage and leadership at the Basie” said New Jersey State Senator Jennifer Beck, who represents Red Bank as part of the state’s 11th District. “For our children at the Red Bank Middle School, this an exciting and innovative concept and brings the historic Count Basie Theater to life for them in a new way.  I am thankful for the time and financial commitment being made by the Count Basie and our school leadership.  Unquestionably, this kind of innovation will provide important new learning opportunities to our Red Bank Middle School students.”

Superintendent Rumage added that the “Arts for All” program is a wonderful way to infuse the middle school with creative expression while expanding the partnership with the historic Basie, which also oversees an integrated arts program at Red Bank’s primary school.

“The Red Bank Public Schools are proud to partner with an organization such as the Basie, which is devoted to enriching children’s lives and learning opportunities using the arts as part of our teachers’ tool box ,” Rumage said. “We are also pleased to have the opportunity to expose our students to a variety of areas of the arts. It’s a win-win for our community.”