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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts (CCTA)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Performing Arts, Performing Arts Schools, Theater

Mission: To educate through the arts by creating theatrical experiences that inspire thought, action, creativity and change.

Results: For close to 40 years CCTA has provided high quality theater arts programs to the children of the Baltimore-Washington area. For the past eight years our focus has been on expanding our Outreach Programs for under-served communities. It provides free performances, after school classes and a summer camp program for children who are often left out of mainstream arts programming. This includes low and moderate income youth, children for whom English is a second language as well as children with special needs.

Target demographics: Children ages 3 - 18

Direct beneficiaries per year: Children in the Baltimore-Washington area

Geographic areas served: Baltimore-Washington, DC Region

Programs: CCTA’s activities can be divided into three distinct areas: The Conservatory, Theatrical Arts Productions (TAP) and Outreach Programs. • THE CONSERVATORY: Features performing arts-based programs designed to nurture and develop the whole child. Students learn through exercises and assignments that not only teach basic acting technique but also encourage them to learn through personal exploration and application of skills. Scholarships are available based on talent and financial need. Programs include Tots and Kids On Broadway musical theatre classes; After School Programs offered at area schools; Performing Arts Camps designed for children ages 6-18; and ourTeen Professional Theatre – a nationally recognized program that provides a unique and intensively creative experience to highly motivated and talented young actors. Special workshops include a Master Class Day for serious middle and high school actors as well as a College Audition Workshop for students considering a career in the performing arts. • THEATRICAL ARTS PRODUCTIONS (TAP): CCTA is dedicated to producing professional productions that relate to school curriculum, reflect current social issues and reinforce good values. These productions are enjoyed by thousands of students each school year. The 2010-11 season features: Seussical, The Musical; Ben Carson, M.D.; The Diary of Anne Frank; and original production of Winnie The Pooh. • OUTREACH: CCTA’s Outreach Program is designed to make theatre arts available and accessible to underserved students in our region. These include: The Ben Carson Project – which has brought over 17,000 BCPSS students to free performances of CCTA’s original and inspiring production, Ben Carson, M.D. since its creation in 2004; and The After School Theatre Project (Howard County and Baltimore, MD) – Free/subsidized after school theatre arts programs for low and moderate income youth; Performing Arts Camp-Baltimore offering an intensive summer theater experience that culminates in performance; and Broadway Kids-Loyola, a partnership with Loyola University Clinical Centers that delivers speech and social therapies to students with special needs via a musical theater class.

Community Stories

32 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

An absolutely outstanding organization that is a very valuable part of the Howard County arts community. CCTA serves a wide constituency and its productions are superb and fun to watch. Its students are challenged and the end products show lots of hard work and commitment -- as well as constantly growing talent.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is an amazing place. They bring out the beautiful abilities of children and adults with challenges!!!!! Thanks for all
Shari

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Columbia School For Theatrical Arts is an outstanding exemplary organization that serves to promote the arts as an all-encompassing benefit to individuals and communities. It serves a wide range of students, including those with a range of disabilities, and provides growth for self concept and self esteem and talent development for young people. It reaches out by its performances and services to many communities!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have attended a number of shows produced by the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts - CCTA - and the quality of performance remains consistently high year after year. CCTA includes a tiered system of programs based on age for children and youth. While the youngest casts do a very fine job and have some obviously wonderful coaching, the true stand-out is CCTA's Teen Professional Theatre whose participants are accepted by audition. The level of professionalism exhibited by these young actors, dancers and singers is remarkable. In addition, the costuming and sets are geared at a professional level and the pit bands for musicals have been outstanding. CCTA is definitely a five-star gem that has a major impact on the quality of life in the Baltimore-Washington area. Many thanks to the dedicated staff and with appreciation to Toby Orenstein who created CCTA and continues to guide and support this exceptional educational program.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Absolutely love CCTA! The programs they have challenge you to do more but in a positive constructive manner. I love everything about them!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I chose to participate with this organization for many reasons.
First, because CCTA welcomed my shy and reserved daughter, who had something to say but lacked the confidence to say it, and who loved to sing and act but was too shy to show it and turned her into a confident, erudite, self-assured young woman. Who, by the way, has a voice degree and an acting MFA and is making her mark on stage.
Secondly, I volunteered with CCTA with it's Ben Carson program that not only
provides a professional stage presentation of Ben Carson, MD's remarkable and inspiring
life to Baltimore City's most needy populations but provides books and teacher follow up material
to many Baltimore City schools at NO cost to the schools. This has changed me in so many ways - it has opened my heart to the plight of needy children and I am so proud of my small contribution.
Thirdly, I am aware of this organization's commitment to ALL children and am excited to be part of an organization that does not fail to meet the needs of our forgotten Children. Those children with multiple challenges - emotional, developmental, and physical disabilities that need to feel a part of something, something that makes them feel that they are not defined by their disability - that they are able to be part of an ensemble - a group - that can take them out of their own world and into a new world where they can make a difference in someone else's life. I am adopting a special needs child and look forward to participating with this worthy organization.
So, in conclusion, this non-profit organization has been life-changing for me, mine and countless other children in this area. That is why I chose to be part of this amazing organization and why it needs to be a model for other non-profits all over the United States.
Sincerely,
Diane Proia

Client Served

Rating: 5

CCTA is such a wonderful, inclusive, supportive organization. They are just as wonderful with the future broadway stars as they are with the physically and mentally disabled kids and teens. Even those unable to speak, unable to move person who inside is just as talented and creative - CCTA gives them the same opportunity to perform and receive the applause they deserve. The kids learn about theater, but the staff also teaches by example that caring for each other and respecting and celebrating differences is more important than individual success. As the mother of a special needs child, I've had the pleasure of seeing them literally open my son's world to be able to experience a mixed troupe of teens and to feel accepted and (this is not an exaggeration) cherished. There is no other organization like CCTA.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was looking for an outlet for her creative talents and we found that and more with CCTA. She has the opportunity to learn and grow in theatre and music as well as make friends and aquire lifelong skills. The group has amazing teachers and great support.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter was introduced to this wonderful organization about 6 months ago through their audtioning class, then went on to be invited to be a part of their Jr. Professional Theatre. She has learned so much and has so much more confidence on the stage and so much more understanding about the journey of being in a theatre show through the staff and the programs offered by CCTA. What I am the most impressed about this organization is the stress they put on the group, rather than the individual. That being a part of a performance is a team effort, not just individuals doing their part. Lastly, their ability to provide scholarship support to children and families that wouldn't otherwise be able to participate just puts them over the top !

Eichlers

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The most amazing transformations of self confidence, self worth, and ability are experienced by many participants. The professional staff that Toby employs at CCTA are not only the absolute best at what they do, but they develop lasting impressions. My son's happiest memories were with CCTA. He made friends that continued through adulthood. And let's talk about the live music. Musicians play in rehearsals, and the live performance. You don't find that. The behind the scenes of CCTA must be one of the most organized and thought out camps ever. The performances are amazing. All are truly proud on and off stage. I highly recommend CCTA.

Client Served

Rating: 4

My daughter Destiny ha had a marvelous opportunity extended to her through the vehicle of this Non-Profit. As a child who loves theatre , it has been a blessing to have a quality camp that teaches her the fundamentals of acting and singing, free of charge! Their outreach program that is extended to the children of Baltimore City is a godsend and my daughter has many happy memories resulting from this organization, including but not limited to performing at Toby's Dinner Theatre...twice! This is definitely a worthwhile Non-Profit that serves definite need.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

CCTA is a non-profit of the highest caliber. In this organization, individuals give above and beyond of their time, talent, and energy. They give kids a safe place to explore and create. Through their special guidance. kids not only deepen their appreciation for the arts, but they learn about themselves, how to work with others, take chances and HAVE FUN! Every child should have the opportunity to experience a CCTA production at least once in their lives.

Client Served

Rating: 4

Both of my kids enjoyed their summer camps for years. They had fun, learned new skills, developed friendships, and felt supported and encouraged by the staff. We have had positive experiences with CCTA.

Alexandra6

Board Member

Rating: 5

I grew up taking classes at the Columbia School of Theatrical Arts 30 years ago and so I can tell you from first hand experience how this organization is life-changing. Toby and her talented staff not only taught me to act, sing, dance and perform to the best of my ability, they also gave me confidence, the discipline to work hard and not give up, and priceless communication skills. I look back on that time with such joy! I was thrilled to be able to give that same invaluable growth experience to my boys. My sons have taken classes and summer camps with CCTA. They have also been a part of the Young Columbians and Teen Professional Theater. I was so impressed with the talent, teaching and encouragement they received through the program that I have become part of the team again after all these years. CCTA is a family to my boys. They have made lasting friendships. In CCTA they have found a safe space to build their musical theater skills. They can speak to a crowd with ease. They can communicate their ideas with confidence. And just like me, they find tremendous joy in their CCTA journey!

Chris86

Advisor

Rating: 4

First class organization!

Our son has been involved with this program and I have worked with this organization on many levels. They work they do with kids of all ages and levels is amazing.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Working with kids of all ages, all talent levels, etc....CCTA is first class. The theatrical arts education that each student receives is a huge asset to the community as both children and adults benefit. Go see a production and I think you'll agree!

Helen18

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

To work with Toby's teaching team is to experience the wonderful results that can be achieved after only a few weeks of rehearsals and classes.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My parents were very involved with the Columbia Center for the Theatrical Arts as patrons, volunteers, and enthusiastic supporters. I have been involved also in watching the School grow. the performances from groups of all ages are always outstanding, and have entertained attendees and participants for decades. The impact on children's self-esteem, abilities, and sense of confidence has been remarkable! This is truly a GRAT non-profit serving familiesa dn communities!

Board Member

Rating: 5

CCTA has made a wonderful impact on both of my kids, Susanna and James. However, I think that the child that it has changed the most is my son, James. We adopted James through The Baltimore City Foster Care System when he was 3 years old. He suffered from medical and physical neglect from his biological parents. When he was taken out of his biological home, he was raging with fever and was covered in cat feces. His home did not have adequate food, heat and was unsanitary. The processes for healing and recovering from the trauma took years. And because of his prior neglect, I have been very protective of him. Intially, I was hestitant to let him join peer related activities because I feared that he would be rejected and I did not want to induce anymore pain on him. Last year, CCTA came to his school, Atholton Elementary as part of their outreach program. He begged me to let him join in the class. I gave in, and before my eyes, I saw my son transform his insecuriity to confidence. The timid little guy became a young boy proud to be part of his first play. The night of the show he dressed himself in a suit and tie and I asked, "Why are you so dressed up?" He said, "Tonight, I make my Toby's debut. " I never had the heart to tell him that his school play wasn't exactly the same caliber as the dinner theater because to him it made no difference.

Mary133

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My son has attended Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts Summer Programs for many years and he looks forward to attending each summer. He has made many new friends that he stays in touch with throughout the year. The staff is always so compassionate and kind. Kids get to work with instructors who have performed on Broadway to really challenge their acting skills. I can't put into words just how much CCTA means to me and my son. Not only does he get acting/singing instruction but he has also gained many life skills that he will carry with him well into the future! Thank you Toby for CCTA and to your wonderful staff for all you do for our kids and the community! The scholarships that you provide make the arts available to kids who wouldn't have the opportunity to attend the program.

Donor

Rating: 5

Here is an organization that deserves more than just applause. Our family has enjoyed numerous shows presented in both school auditoriums and Toby's Dinner Theater. Great talent. Great direction. CCTA deserves this recognition. Michael Kelemen, MD