“Opening Act gives me a light of hope that I can get somewhere in life.”

Odley I Opening Act Alum (Brooklyn)

Committed to closing the arts education access gap in NYC, Opening Act centers the voices of students of color through free, high-quality theater programming.

Opening Act puts young artists and leaders center stage, using inclusive theater education at under-resourced public schools to set students up for success, by developing confidence, fostering community, teaching collaboration, and inspiring creativity.

Since inception in 2000, we have grown to reach over 7,000 young people at over 50 under-resourced schools throughout New York City. This includes our partnership with District 79, the city’s alternative school district, and expansion into middle school. After graduation, Opening Act alumni join our Act 2 program, which sets them up for academic, professional, and artistic success.

high res curtain call

Opening Act students proudly take their bows after performing their culminating original plays at a professional NYC theater. Photo by JG.


At Opening Act, these values guide our work, our community, and our creativity:

“Respecting is reassurance of yourself. Recognizing and acknowledging others with consideration for generations to come.” –Caleb Grandoit, Alum

“Showing up is being yourself and knowing that being yourself is enough and knowing that you make all of us better.” –Jacob Matthews, Alum

“Listening is the only way to really make us connect with each other and it’s the only way that we can really access our true, authentic selves.” –Jeremiah Thompson, Alum

“YES, and-ing is affirmation that, in this moment, you are enough. That whatever you are working on is enough. Whatever you bring to the table is enough. Whatever project you are working on and whoever you may be collaborating with and whatever you are creating together is enough.” –Brittany Adebumola, Alum

“Empowering is the act of inspiring others. Each generation is supposed to inspire each other to want to do better and create something new.” –Nathasha Bell, Alum

“Alone we are strong but together we are stronger.” –Joshua Sanchez, Alum

Read about our programs and our impact.