Bringing Community Back to Jersey City

“I went to art school when I was 8 years old on a full scholarship. My mission is to do it for every child,” Olga Levina, the artistic director of JCTC said.

The Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) is offering various programs to accomplish their mission: to bring the art community back together.

According to JCTC’s website their goal is to “present innovative and progressive performing and visual arts as well as educational art programs which embrace the diverse identity and preserve the rich history of Jersey City, bringing its community closer together and enhancing its quality of life.”

Levina explained why she wants to bring community back to Jersey City.

“I really believe in getting children their education in every community because I know it’s 75% of Jersey City kids that can’t afford it. This youth foundation is bigger than programming, building theater, and serving all different people,” Levina expressed.

In Jersey City, 20.6 percent of residents lived below the poverty line in 2013, up from 19.4 percent in 2012 and 18.8 percent in 2010, according to U.S. Census.

JCTC Arts-4-All, JCTC-KIDS, and JCTC ArtLab are some of the reasonably-priced programs that JCTC offers.

“We are diverse community… there are underprivileged children that need art and we have lot young artists that graduate from universities and give up because it’s difficult to succeed without government support in our area of work”,Levina said.

JCTC ArtLab also provides rental space for inspiring and upcoming artists.

According to , on average students pay $95 per student for 7-hour workshop, $100 per hour for 1-on-1 workshops and classes and all day group sessions of $200 in a basic art studio in New York City .

“I wanted to reach out to those who need or can’t afford it”, Levina explained, “[JCTC] is here to bring young artists and give them opportunity to rehearse and develop their work and to develop their messages and grow artistically and grow in their field.”

Levina also wants to reach kids at a very young age. One way that they are doing that is with their live puppet shows presented by Puppetworks.

The puppet shows are given every Sunday from February 7th through June 12th at 1:00 pm.

JCTC’s first puppet show was the Beauty and the Beast.

Michael Leach, Chief Puppeteer and Executive Director of Puppetworks, expressed what theater in communities meant to him.

“Theater always brings people together, particularly when it’s a small theater in a community,” Leach said.

“A little theater is a special place, particularly a children’s theater “, Leach adds, “They bring mom, they bring dad, they bring the kids, they meet other kids, and they see people they might know other people they don’t know…now they’re friends.”

Tanya Sires, a parent who attended the show said, “It’s a beautiful expression of this art form, for children to see a story that is live and well-done… It’s really unique.”

Kim Ridley also attended the show with her nephew.

“It’s great that they’re having it in Jersey City because you always have to go to New York to see events like this, when now you can go to your own hometown,” she said.

“It’s something different and creative”, Ridley added, “This would bring the community together to have more of these shows along with different nationalities of the children that attend.”

JCTC is located at the Merseles Studios on 339 Newark Avenue Jersey City, NJ 07302. For information call (201) 795-5386 or visit