Students at NYC Performing Arts School raise over $40,000 to save drama program

Sonia Rincón Image
Friday, March 15, 2024
7th graders raise money to save school drama program
Sonia Rincon is in Manhattan with the inspiring story from the young students.

HELL'S KITCHEN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The talented kids of the Professional Performing Arts School in Hell's Kitchen are happiest on stage.

"It's like our main thing," said 7th grader Kira Jancova. "Like, our heart wants us to do this."

So, when they learned earlier this week that the school's beloved drama program serving 6th and 12th graders would be gone in a month, they were devastated.

"I was so scared, and I just didn't know what I should do," said 6th grader Jesse Gellert.

But they figured out a way: GoFundMe.

"I had no idea that it was going to be this big and blow up this huge," said 7th grader Tennyson Artigliere.

Artigliere's GoFundMe is linked to the school's PTA, which regularly raises money for all kinds of costs associated with the program and its productions.

In just three days, and with the help of alumni who recently organized with their own reunion performances and an Instagram page, they raised over $40,000.

On Thursday, they received news of a huge donation coming from Jay-Z's Roc Nation company, which also manages program alum Alicia Keys.

"Today we found out that Roc Nation is going to be donating $60,000 and will also pledge to continue to fund the program until the DOE can sufficiently keep the program going," said Artigliere.

"I'm so impressed when young people recognize the agency and voice that they have," said Marcus Artigliere, Tennyson's father. "They take initiative and action on their own."

The families are elated, saying arts education is in danger.

"It is important," said one parent, Andrea Jones-Sojola. "Because eventually, you won't be able to do to Broadway and see the next Audra McDonald, or go the ballet and see the next Misty Copeland, or there won't be an 'Oppenheimer' to watch."

The Department of Education says the disruption wasn't exactly a budget cut, but a contract change it wasn't prepared for.

Parents say an endowment could help long-term with future funding threats, and they're hopeful they and the alumni can build on the momentum started by the 7th graders.

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Lindsay Tuchman reports.


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