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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

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Almost eight years ago my family had the pleasure of being introduced to the world of Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts and Toby Orenstein. Over the years we have thoroughly enjoyed watching our two daughters perform and thrive on stages across the region and beyond. CCTA has given my youngest, Shelby Chase Smith, the opportunity to sing, dance and convey timely, socially and globally important stories to broad audiences spanning several counties and states. A highlight was receiving the opportunity to attend an unforgettable event entitled "Broadway Comes To the White House" where Shelby had the honor of meeting the President of the United States as well as dozens of Currently performing Broadway stars. The confidence my children have gained goes beyond performing. As a Creative Writing major, Shelby has had to command an audience at the podium on many occasions. Her public speaking skills, over-all confidence and self-esteem has improved greatly as a direct result of her participation in CCTA programing. My older daughter, Chelsea, is working on her second show at the world renown LaJolla Playhouse in San Diego, CA. It is because of the exposure to the Arts that Toby and her impeccable team, headed by Executive Administrator Melissa Rosenberg, so lovingly, generously and professionally shared with her and continue to share with all who come seeking theatre knowledge, that she has been able to build a pretty nice resume, working directly with such notable TONY Award winning Artist such as Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik and Moises Kauffman. Without a doubt, It is largely due to how warmly our family has been embraced by CCTA that Chelsea Diggs Smith's sights are set on the Broadway Stage. We have no doubts she'll make it!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We are in our first year at CCTArts, and I have never seen my daughter bond to a completely new group of people so fast and so hard! She loves her friends at CCTArts to the point I may have to make her get a job to help pay for gas because we spend our weekends constantly visiting them from a neighboring county. They support each other not only within the framework of CCTArts, but also in their individual school shows, other community theatre projects and garage bands. I'm guessing we'll be part of this family for many years to come.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our daughter participated in the CCTA summer camp programs for approximately 7 years. We couldn't plan our summer vacation until we received the camp schedule - CCTA camp was a must! She enjoyed acting, singing, dancing and meeting up with old friends year after year. For 10 years, she was also an avid dancer with a private studio. She's now in her sophomore year at college studying deaf communications to become an interpreter for the deaf. I wholeheartedly believe that her love for drama and dance, along with the guidence provided by the CCTA staff, have given her the stage presence and confidence to stand up in front of large groups of people to excel in her love of sign language and the deaf community.

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been a partner with CCTA for many years supporting their work with Baltimore City school children. During this time CCTA has expanded their programs in Baltimore City to include several successful afterschool programs which provide students the an opportunity to participate in theatre productions as well as seeing a live performance at the dinner theatre. We are proud to support CCTA as they help at-risk students receive exposure to the arts! Sincerely, Wright Family Foundation

Client Served

Rating: 5

My three children have all participated in CCTA programs and they have all been wonderful - exceeding anything else of similar type that we have tried. I have also had the opportunity to help out behind the scenes on a few of their outreach programs and cannot find the words to say just how great they were!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't say enough good things about CCTA programs. Both of my daughters have participated in summer camps and spring break camp, and have enjoyed it very much. The professionals running the camps are engaging for the kids and the productions are great. We have also attended the teen professional productions and have been very impressed. We will continue to participate in CCTA programs!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The encouragement, guidance, advice and experience gained as a result of our daughter's participation in CCTA TPT program over 3 years were instrumental in preparing her not only for musical theatre college auditions but also provided valuable life skills.



In addition, the workshops she was able to take and the mentoring she received from the staff involved with the shows, along with the amazing guest speakers/performers really helped her set high goals for herself and define herself as an actress.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Aida, Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables, Ragtime.....every performance was so inspiring musically, visually and spiritually. Some of the children were there on full scholarship, and would never be able to participate otherwise. One of the performances was filled with children who were brought in from Baltimore City, who would never have had the chance to see a live show otherwise. Seeing them fully engaged and watching their reactions to the music, dance and clever antics on stage was truly one of the most uplifting things I've ever been a part of. I am getting teary eyed, again, just thinking about it.

Katie H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was in last year's production of Hairspray! I had a great time! Not that I didn't think we could pull the show off in seven days, but I was amazed at how well everyone performed. Even though they pushed us hard during the days of rehearsal leading up to the shows, we had so much fun together! I made a lot of friends that I still talk to. I'm part of my school's drama company, and it was really great working with new directors. This was a wonderful experience. There's only one thing I would change. I live in Northern Maryland so the drive down every morning to Comlumbia was a long way for my dad to drive me. He was happy to do it because doing Hairspray was my dream show. If the camp was held in two locations or moved to another location, one closer to the Toby's in Baltimore, I think I'd be more apt to do more things with the CCTA and I could probably get more of my friends to also participate. I would totally recommend to anyone to do one of these shows! They are wonderful!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter attended thie workshop this summer and it was a blast she loved it the staff was great and the kids that she got to work with awsome she loved it.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our two children have participated in CCTA's Performing Arts Summer Camp for the past 3 years and we keep coming back because it is the best summer camp program around (in an area with many camp options, that says a lot!). The program is fun, well structured, safe, and the show they perform at the end of the session is always impressive. They give each child an opportunity to enjoy the spotlight and teach them so much about performing and working together to create something wonderful. The counselors are warm and enthusiastic. Our kids are 3 years apart and have different interests and personalities but both enjoy the camp equally.