coLAB Arts Inc


5 Lorain Street
P.O. Box 887
New Brunswick, NJ 08903
County: Middlesex


Mr. John P. Keller, Jr.

Grant Amount


Program Area



Grant Details

To provide in-depth theater instruction, by linking the coLAB network of artists with New Brunswick high school students.

Organization Background

From its initial inception in 2006 as a student organization at Rutgers University, coLAB Arts has served the emerging artists of New Brunswick, NJ. By 2010, coLAB Arts was officially incorporated as a independent 501(c)(3) organization fully dedicated to the idea that culture is fostered by a partnership between artists and communities.

Now, in 2016, coLAB Arts has matured into an organization with a vision to create more livable, sustainable, and exciting environments through art.

coLAB Arts' mission is to engage artists, social advocates, and communities to create transformative new work. coLAB Arts facilitates creative conversation through innovative programs and artist infrastructure, connects artists with community partners and mentors, and executes productions that challenge perceptions and inspire action.

coLAB Arts generates community-powered projects and seeks to create an art scene using new and established spaces. Its work takes place in community rooms, houses of worship, parking lots, schools, bars, and backyards. A "let's get it done" work ethic and flair for mischief colors coLAB Arts' aesthetic and an emphasis on community engagement and professional development defines its commitment to the arts.

coLAB Arts believes that artistic expression is civic engagement and that collaboration is an active and creative process. coLAB Arts draws energy and inspiration from working with emerging artists and finding new platforms and audiences for established creative voices. coLAB Arts engages communities to ask questions, develop relationships, and come together to create new work across socio-economic, ethnic, and generational lines.

Dan Swern is the co-founder and producing director for coLAB Arts. Swern's engagement with public art extends from mural and sculptural installation work with coLAB Arts to master plan coordination through the New Brunswick Community Arts Council. For coLAB Arts, Swern created the Orphanage play development program and an emerging choreographer residency in collaboration with Lustig Dance Theatre. He has directed the New Jersey premiere of I Heart Kant, and a bilingual production of Romeo and Juliet / Romeo y Julieta. He is also the founder and owner of Smugbug Productions, providing services in creative development and stage direction, production consulting, and producing. Directing projects include I Hope They Serve Beer on Broadway by Tucker Max with Gorilla Rep, Hiccups with American Records, Flight with Branch Street Productions, Pablo Neruda with Voice Afire, and Dead for Breakfast for Midtown International Theater Festival. Producing clients include The Secret City, Sprat Artistic Ensemble, Foster Entertainment, Poetic Theatre Productions, Branch Street Productions, and National Theatre of Scotland. Previous positions include production coordinator for Holiday Image, associate producer for the New York production of Punchdrunk's Sleep No More, associate producer for the national tour of Gazillion Bubble Show, and company manager for George Street Playhouse. Swern is a resident acting teacher for Mason Gross School of the Arts' Extension Division. Dan is a member of the New Brunswick Community Arts Council and is a recipient of the 2015-2017 Prudential Foundation Nonprofit Executive Fellowship at the Institute for Ethical Leadership, at Rutgers University Business School. He is a proud graduate of Rutgers University.

John Keller is the coLAB Arts Director of Education and leads this project. Keller is a lifelong New Brunswick resident, and an alumnus of Rutgers University - Mason Gross School of the Arts Graduate Acting program. He has worked regionally and in NYC as an actor in both theater and television and continues to study with leading theater companies and artists. Working with such notable companies as Contemporary American Theater Festival, George Street Playhouse, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Tectonic Theater. Company, Theatre167. He also appeared in a principle role on this seasons Boardwalk Empire. John's work with coLAB Arts began in 2009, with a focus on building a company comprised of dedicated professionals including actors, costume and set designers, directors, stage managers and writers committed to creating quality education opportunities for traditionally underserved students. Outside of the arts, John sits on the Board of the Town Clock Community Development Corporation in New Brunswick, NJ as well as the Advisory Board of the Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers, which is dedicated to the sharing of knowledge about young people making the transition to college and coming to age in the digital era.

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