Experiencing Perkins Conservatory

On any given day, walking into the Perkins’ Manor in Moorestown, or into the Collingswood Warehouse, one is tantalized by music wafting through the air. Fingers trip lightly across the keys of the pianos while vocalists warm up with scales. The lilting of a flute or the soulful song of a cello greets you at the door, while the drum beat provides energy for the day. More than 100 students visit Perkins weekly for lessons with one of the 30+ instructors who hail from international musical institutions to share their gifts. For more than two decades, Perkins Conservatory of music has been growing and evolving. The Center has shared musical experiences with thousands of students during that time and we look for innovative ways to improve those experiences daily. The goal of the Perkins Conservatory is to give all students lasting and memorable musical experiences that will accompany them throughout

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Spirit Invincible

On Tuesday, October 2, staff and youth from the Center for Family Services welcomed visitors, funders and participants to witness the unveiling of “Spirit Invincible,” at Benson House in Camden.  The mural project which began more than 18 months ago came to fruition on this evening when this deeply moving mosaic mural was dedicated. The mural, Spirit Invincible, welcomes residents, staff and visitors to the Benson House. Incorporating more than 2,000 handcrafted clay tiles made by residents, IMANI students, staff, and teaching artist Paul Serena.  Through stylized symbolism, the mural follows a spirit’s challenging journey towards successful, achievable outcomes, a relatable story about human perseverance. Upon entering you are met with the Benson House, capturing the home’s architectural beauty and the welcoming hands we offer to all who seek aid and comfort here. From the entryway landing we see a spirit in a small boat in turbulent water, who is

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Serife Ayakta: Living the American Dream While Keeping a Piece of Home

Serife Ayakta (meaning standing in honor), carries a legacy in her name from the maternal and paternal sides of her family. Her grandmother instilled in her, “Whatever happens do not lay down, get up.” Serife grew up near Istanbul,Turkey. After an earthquake killed her mother and destroyed her home and baby furniture business, her husband’s friend urged, “Go to the United States. America has big dreams for your children.” Serife explains, “My husband and I decided to come here to see if it was okay for our children’s future.” Upon their arrival they spent time with distant relatives and friends that had previously immigrated to New York City. Relocating to New Jersey in 2001 with their three children, Serife, began working at a daycare center.  She loved the babies, but when the job would not provide the opportunity for her to travel to Santa Barbara for a week with her daughter,

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Anna Felcyn: Balancing American and Immigrant Identities Through Food Traditions

Anna Felcyn was born in Lesna, Poland, a small town of about 5000 people. All throughout her childhood, cooking was an important tradition due to the social, economic and political landscape. After World War II Poland was a communist country.  Resources were low and high quality food was largely unavailable. Although Anna’s family wasn’t always able to buy the best ingredients, the Polish tradition of cooking meant “making the best out of what you had,” says Anna. “People didn’t have much.”  But that didn’t stop her mother from teaching her the traditions that had been passed down through many generations. During Anna’s childhood, her parents worked all day and left cooking dinner to Anna and her two sisters. Despite their busy lives, enjoying dinners together helped the family come together. When Anna and her family first tried to come to America, they had difficulty obtaining green cards. Since Anna’s sister

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Expressing the Inner Desire to Create through Handcrafted Beer

On Saturday, May 19th, the Perkins Center for the Arts will host Handcrafted ,an event celebrating local artistry with craft beer, food truck faire, and live musical performances. In previous years, New Jersey laws prohibited home breweries from selling their beers, limiting the amount of people able to enjoy local handcrafted alcohol.  After changes to the law took effect, the Perkins Center was inspired to hold an event that introduces locals to New Jersey’s beer craft. Handcrafted is  a celebration meant to support New Jersey craft beer culture and the many factions of creativity that occur at Perkins. The event showcases inner creativity of artisans.  Executive Director, Karen Chigounis states, “The creativity doesn’t just happen on a canvas… It happens in the kitchen. It happens in your writing… It happens if we make room.   We should be the ones making room to celebrate creativity.” In previous years, attendees of the event participated in

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Parks and Play

Whiff! Wiffle Ball Cup Tournament is an exemplar of Public Lore and Play in our Parks Play is as ancient as time. It is a necessary element of our socialism and interwoven into our daily lives.  We engage in informal playful banter:  playing jokes, playing upon one another, playing both ends against the middle, playing second fiddle, playing your cards well, playing fair, playing by the rules.  Our play easily moves from words to action.  Our public parks and town streets are virtual playgrounds.  We are rolling from summer into a fall full of play through festivals, exhibitions, performances, and tournaments hosted in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties. St. Anthony’s Italian Festival will be held in Glassboro on September 16. Dolls of Distinction Exhibition is at Smithville Park in Eastampton through September 17.  The Camden County Fair is in Blackwood, NJ September 23 and 24.   Here at Perkins Center for the Arts,

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Bottles, Walls & Palaces

The Folklife Project is supported by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. This project developed out of the recognition of our shared belief in the value of diversity in our State, which is one of our most significant and valuable characteristics. We invite you to learn more about this project now and as it continues to develop. Working in Gloucester for this project, we initially focused on parts of the county defined by the larger cities and towns. These include Swedesboro, Glassboro, Woodbury, and Paulsboro. Where possible, we followed leads into the smaller surrounding towns too. So for example, while working in Glassboro we also visited and talked with people in Clayton and Elk Township, as well as Pitman and Barnsboro. While working in Woodbury, we met with people in Deptford Township and in Thorofare and National Park. While working in Paulsboro, we made visits in Gibbstown and

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