State Theatre NJ Offers Shows for Children with Autism
Steve Adubato talks to Anna Marie Gewirtz, Chief of External Affairs at the State Theatre NJ, who discusses the many community outreach programs at the theatre. One program, Relaxed Performances, allows children and adults on the autism spectrum to enjoy live performances in a safe, welcoming, sensory-friendly environment.
"Welcome back to One On One I'm pleased to welcome Anna Marie Gewirtz who is Chief of External Affairs, State Theater, New Jersey. Good to see you. Anna Marie, you are with us as a former staff person of the Caucus Educational Corporation a few years back and now you're doing great things at State Theater. Tell folks what State Theater is all about. Sure, so the State Theater is an 1850 seat performance theater in downtown New Brunswick. We have all different kinds of performances Everything from Broadway, Classical, Comedy, Rock, Pop, Family Shows, Variety, so there's something for everyone. So interesting. Again, because you know our operation as a not for profit television production company and you've been in the development and external affairs fundraising operation and you love the arts. You're an artist yourself. I've had the pleasure of being able to listen to you play the piano. You're exceptional in that regard. You love the arts. Always have? I always have. Yeah. I was very lucky. I had musiclessons from a very young age. When I was 4 I started taking piano lessons and later I took french horn and I took voice lessons later on so my parents felt like arts needed to be part of our education and we were really fortunate and then later in my teens I started realizing that not everyone had that same exposure to the arts, so I got a chance to volunteer and do some performances for inner city schools, teaching kids classical and jazz. Mmm. Music. I did piano class at the Count Basie Learning Center down in Red Bank Great place and I had 10 kids in my piano class which gave me a run for my money, but I felt very strongly that everyone should have access to the arts. So now at State, the whole idea of arts education, the whole idea of making arts more accessible, how... dare I use the term "marketable" is that and how hard is it... how challenging is it to raise money around those efforts? Well, it's a great question. Our ticket sales at the state theater only represent about 58% of our operating costs. That's ticket sales, 58% Correct. What's the rest? So the rest is... We have contributed income which is about over 3 million dollars a year that we raise and that helps subsidize... Is that corporate sponsors? Corporate sponsors, foundations, individuals. We have some government money as well, but all of that together helps pay for the education and outreach programs that we do for the community. Let's talk about... is it "relaxed performances?" MmmHmm. What are those? Sure. So this is..."