Newark Symphony Hall announces career accelerator, business incubator for performing arts

Newark Symphony Hall has announced a new career accelerator and business incubator focused on the performing arts, dubbed “The Lab at Newark Symphony Hall.”

The Lab, which aims to promote unique programs and performing artists in the greater Newark region, is being launched with financial support from Newark Arts, NSH said. It will focus on live entertainment, including musicians and singers, dancers, actors, spoken-word artists, directors and technical theater staff, among others.

Taneshia Nash Laird. (File photo)

“These efforts are crucial in a city where one in every three people lives beneath the poverty line,” Taneshia Nash Laird, NSH’s CEO and president, told ROI-NJ. “This can be transformative for our community members. … We want to create ‘careers,’ not just ‘jobs.’ We want to develop each and every individual that comes through the program. And, while we’re still structuring the program, the idea is that this will include as many participants, now, as possible.”

The Lab will debut in conjunction with the virtual production of Richard Wesley’s “Black Terror,” which will live-stream online this summer.

Yendor Theatre Company will be the first resident of the Lab and will serve as NSH’s first company-in-residence. YTC will put on the production of “Black Terror” in a co-production with WACO Theater Center, based in North Hollywood, California.

“We’re confident that, while housed within our incubator, Yendor will see swift growth, utilizing various creative and professional resources we’ve made available,” Nash Laird said in a prepared statement.

As part of the Lab experience, WACO’s co-artistic director, Richard Lawson — who will direct the “Black Terror” production — will mentor and advise YTC co-founder Andrew Binger.

“Our Lab program/accelerator will benefit greatly from WACO’s involvement at our launch,” Nash Laird said.

She had previously mentored Binger in the Victoria Emerging Leaders Program at Rutgers Business School’s Institute for Ethical Leadership.

“Newark Symphony Hall has such a tremendous legacy here in the city of Newark, and theater has played such an integral role in that history,” Binger said in a statement. “We are excited to continue that tradition as a part of this accelerator lab.”

Local performing artists are invited to register for the Lab, applying to receive access to training, career resources and opportunities. Nash Laird indicated that the program intends to recruit heavily from Newark and its region.

“Yendor is the first business in the program, but we expect many individuals to come through as well,” she told ROI-NJ.

Nash Laird said Lab participants would gain access to the venue’s concert hall and black box theater facilities.

“Our aim is to provide local people with opportunities to utilize our spaces,” she said. “We’re also aiming to get more local people into IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.”

She added that NSH is seeking to hire for the Lab, including a full-time production manager, and is raising funds to support the project, including investment to offset union labor costs at the venue if necessary.