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Mana Contemporary’s Future Art Leaders Program is Nurturing Tomorrow’s Creative Minds

The 10-week journey cultivates exceptional artistic leadership in Jersey City's youth, delivering invaluable opportunities.

Jan 31, 2024 · 3 Minute Read


Mana Contemporary, an integral part of Mana Common‘s diverse properties, has been supporting young artistic talent through its innovative Future Art Leaders Program. Launched in Fall 2022, this initiative offers high school students from Jersey City Public Schools a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the multifaceted world of art, blending museum and gallery experiences with hands-on interaction in artists’ studios – at no cost to the school system or its participants.

The program’s design is both ambitious and nurturing, selecting students through a rigorous application process. In the 2022-2023 academic year, six students were chosen, followed by sixteen in the 2023-2024 year. The program is open to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors from JC Arts. While their talent is apparent, the selection process focuses on their enthusiasm to learn about various career opportunities in the art world.

The ten-week semester curriculum encompasses a wide array of topics that blend art and professional skills, including: Art Business, Entrepreneurship, Curating, Public Program Development, and more. Students gain valuable insights by meeting a diverse group of artists and art professionals, including art critics, which enrich their understanding of the art world.

Kristin DeAngelis, the program’s director, ensures that the experience is intensely practical. From creating art pieces to learning docent work, students are continually engaged in hands-on activities. The main goal of the program is to teach them skills that will give them a head start in sustaining themselves through their time in university and beyond. In 2023, the Jersey City Art’s and Trust Fund awarded Mana Contemporary with a grant to cover all costs of the program for the 2023-2024 school year. To fulfill that grant, at the end of their 10 week course, the Future Art Leaders will give tours of Mana Contemporary’s permanent collections to their student peers, teachers, artists and City officials.

Kristin DeAngelic (Director of Community Outreach) stands alongside Mana Contemporary's Future Art Leaders in the immersive Dan Flavin exhibition. Photo taken by Jennifer Brown (City of Jersey City).Kristin DeAngelic (Director of Community Outreach) stands alongside Mana Contemporary's Future Art Leaders in the immersive Dan Flavin exhibition. Photo taken by Jennifer Brown (City of Jersey City).

During their time at Mana Contemporary’s Jersey City campus, students witness the vibrancy of a working art environment. They observe installations in progress, interact with artists, and experience the excitement of an active creative space. This exposure not only educates but also inspires, as students contemplate their future roles in the art world.

With successful launches in Jersey City, there are hopes to expand this enriching program to other locations, among the Chicago and Mana Fashion brands. Registration for the 2024-2025 school year begins on May 1st, offering another group of young artists the chance to be part of this transformative experience.

Thanks to the Grant, not only are there no costs for materials for field trips, but Mana Contemporary is able to pay the Future Art Leaders stipends for their time in the program.

Program alumni depart with more than just a certificate; they gain a valuable network and opportunities for future engagement in events and potential internships, arming them with both artistic proficiency and essential leadership skills for thriving in the creative sector.

This initiative embodies Mana Contemporary’s dedication to shaping the future of art and creativity, a core mission of Mana Common.To inquiry or apply for the upcoming program, contact Kristin DeAngelis at kdeangelis@manacontemporary.com or 201-280-4821.

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