SOPAC to Receive $10,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

South Orange, NJ – The South Orange Performing Arts Center has been approved for a $10,000 Challenge America award to support SOPAC’s music residency program.

SOPAC’s music residency program is among 168 projects across America totaling $1,680,000 that were selected to receive fiscal year 2022 funding in the Challenge America grant category. SOPAC is 1 of 20 New Jersey institutions to receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts this cycle.

SOPAC’s music residency launched in 2016 to bring classical music instruction to children in under-funded school districts. Through this program, teaching artists engage with elementary, middle and high school students to provide one-on-one strings instruction, primarily for violin.

As part of the SOPAC music residency, teaching artist-in-residence Aurora Mendez brings her expertise and love of music to Jhi-Eun Gu’s music class in the Orange Township School District.


SOPAC teaching artist-in-residence Aurora Mendez, instructs Orange Township School District students as part of the SOPAC music residency program.

“Having that second pair of hands in my classroom is invaluable,” says Gu. “This program is such a vital resource for my students. It elevates the level of musical instruction and learning opportunities available to my students.”

With this funding, SOPAC aims to enrich the program by expanding the teaching artist’s schedule and introducing more robust cello instruction to the residency.

“I’m thrilled to have a national organization recognize the work that we’re doing,” says Linda Beard, SOPAC’s Director of Community Engagement. “These two teachers are so dedicated to their students. They are a remarkable team and I’m so glad that the SOPAC music residency and this grant will continue to provide support to these talented music students.”

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