–Website launched highlighting the vision and featured interviews with prominent performers and artists–
Englewood (New Jersey): Imagine a public high school for the arts serving all of Bergen County. The Advisors & Supporters, a community based, grassroots group in Englewood, New Jersey, is exploring the possibility of developing a public high school for the arts in the 115-year-old Russell C. Major Liberty School, an architecturally distinguished building located on the historic Five Corners site in the city’s downtown district. The group launched a website, LibertySchoolfortheArts.org, to imagine this vision featuring videos with exclusive interviews of leading performers and artists, such as Grammy award winning jazz musician Russell Malone, actor and teaching artist Andrea L. Patterson, Broadway actor Rebecca Eichenberger, and others discussing how the arts shaped their lives and can develop another generation.
Englewood: A Community of Educators and Artists
The City of Englewood is well-positioned to be the home of a public arts high school. The school’s namesake, Russell Cameron Major, was a revered community leader in Englewood. He was a teacher and coach, whose legacy would continue with a public arts high school. Also, the city has long been a cultural hub for the arts and artists. Several artists have been a part of the community, such as The Sugar Hill Gang, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, Eddie Murphy, Alicia Keys, John Travolta, George Benson, the Isley Brothers, Sarah Jessica Parker, and others. Leading arts and cultural institutions are based in the community, including Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), the Lillian Booth Actors’ Home of The Actors Fund of America, and Arts Horizon.
The proposed school would be a collaborative effort between the Bergen County Technical Schools and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York, two organizations ranked nationally near the top of their respective fields. Proponents claim this perfect marriage would provide Englewood and Bergen County with the top arts school in the nation.
The group emphasizes this concept is only at the proposal stage. Extensive public engagement will be sought. While interest has been expressed, no commitments by Bergen County or the City of Englewood have been made. The proposal includes a plan and financing for a much-needed Englewood Community Center. This is not an either/or question, therefore, but both/and. The proposed development will provide Englewood with both a nationally ranked high school and a dedicated building architected from the ground up to function effectively as community center.
The Advisors & Supporters and their fiscal agent, the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF), plan to demonstrate to Englewood and Bergen County residents the importance of having this extraordinary institution in their midst, as an investment returning many times its cost over the long-term. This group of volunteers sees the establishment of this school, with its connection to Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts forging a working link to New York City’s arts and culture networks, as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Bergen County. The school would be a major step toward making Bergen County an arts and culture destination attracting to the Hackensack River area tourists, new residents and businesses from the entire tri-state region.
What Can the Public Do?
This unique opportunity can only be realized through the interest, engagement, and participation of the entire community. The Advisors & Supporters provides these key things the public can do to get involved in this effort.
First, visit the group’s website, LibertySchoolfortheArts.org. Watch the interviews with leading performers and artists and share the website’s address with others. Second, leave comments and suggestions on the website’s Contact form at the end of its homepage. Third, write your representatives expressing support for the proposed public arts high school.