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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

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.
Diane Proia


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!

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.