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

Odley I Opening Act Alum (Brooklyn)

Committed to advancing arts equity in NYC and beyond, for twenty years, Opening Act has actively centered the voices of students of color through free, high-quality theater programming.

Opening Act targets the city’s highest need schools with disproportionately less access to resources than other schools in the system. These schools are often flagged by the DOE as “under-performing” and are at risk of closure. Since inception, we have grown to reach over 5,000 young people. Today, our free, year-long, after school theater program serves 57 schools throughout New York City, including our partnership with the city’s alternative school district, where we work with young people who are pursuing a high school equivalency diploma in a formal educational environment because their education was disrupted by a life event.

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.

Opening Act’s theater programs provide students attending New York City’s most under-served public schools the opportunity to gain confidence, pride, and the knowledge that they can succeed at anything in life.

At Opening Act, we strive to maintain the following values onstage, behind the scenes, and in the classroom:

Respect: We treat each other with respect and care.

Showing Up: We believe that by showing up you are supporting your community with concrete, consistent action.

Listening: We are committed to valuing and truly listening to each other’s ideas, stories, and experiences.

YES And-ing: We maintain positive attitudes and always make our partners look good. We do not discount or dismiss the ideas, stories, or experiences of others–we see the value in them.  

Empowering: We want everyone to use their voice and feel powerful. We empower each other to believe in our own talents and abilities and be the best versions of ourselves.

Including: We seek to make people feel welcome and valued.

Read about our programs and our impact.