Project Performing Arts marks a decade of empowering Harlem youth

Founded by Nina Klyvert-Lawson, the nonprofit organization has been a steadfast presence in the community, offering a safe space for children aged 6 to 17 to explore dance, theater arts and West African drumming.

Edric Robinson

Sep 21, 2023, 7:44 PM

Updated 213 days ago

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Project Performing Arts, a community group dedicated to providing essential resources to Harlem's youth, is celebrating its 10th year of service.
Founded by Nina Klyvert-Lawson, the nonprofit organization has been a steadfast presence in the community, offering a safe space for children aged 6 to 17 to explore dance, theater arts and West African drumming. The program is housed at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Catholic Charities Community Center on West 134th Street.
“We believe the performing arts is actually a way to view the world in a different lens,” says Klyvert-Lawson, who is also the artistic director of the program. 
She says the group serves as a much needed lifeline for countless children in the area. 
"Every child needs an outlet, especially since the pandemic. Our teens are still feeling its effects and trying to work through some things. Programs like Project Performing Arts provide an opportunity for them to come, leave everything at the door, and express themselves," says Klyvert-Lawson.
Nevaeh Blake is 16 and has been part of the program since its inception in 2013. Nevaeh emphasizes the sense of family and the much-needed distraction that Project Performing Arts provides.
"Whenever I'm having a bad week, I come here, and I just dance," Nevaeh shares. "Not only around my school, but in my school, some people do not do so well, but I think having activities helps. Having something to do and not just lying around at home all day."
While there is tuition associated with classes, parents like Muyinat Oke appreciate the organization's willingness to work with families like hers.
"They work with us," says Oke. "So if you have any issues with funding or anything like that, they do as much as they can to make sure your child stays."
Oke has witnessed a significant positive change in her daughter during the three years she's been part of Project Performing Arts.
"She has a lot more control, a lot more focus, a lot more discipline. She's become more of a leader," Oke notes. "They don't have much of that in schools now, so it's all about sports, but not about the fine arts."
Project Performing Arts offers a full year of programming divided into two semesters, ending in June. Click HERE for more information.


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