News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director Ÿ Doug Singleterry, Commissioner Deputy Director

Sara Sooy, Commissioner Ÿ  Melonie Marano, Commissioner Ÿ Paul Drake, Commissioner



June 5, 2023

Teen Arts Festival a Big Success for

Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission

Local Students Earn Spots at the New Jersey State Arts Festival

BRANCHBURG– The Somerset County Teen Arts Festival returned to Raritan Valley Community College in May, where 11 schools, including 700 students and teachers, participated. This was the Cultural & Heritage Commission’s first in-person arts festival since 2019.

The festival is an arts and education opportunity for middle and high school students, ages 13-19, across Somerset County.

Students were able to have their visual artwork displayed in the RVCC Art Gallery, submit their creative writing and original film, and present vocal music, instrumental music, dance, and theatre performances. There were roughly 50 student performances throughout the day.

Participants had the opportunity to be critiqued and receive feedback from professionals in the field to encourage their creativity, note their strengths, and provide recommendations to grow and improve. Participating artists representing Somerset County art organizations included:

Dr. Anna Keiserman– Adjudicator for Instrumental Music

  • Professor at RVCC’s Music Department.
  • Honored to provide support and guidance to students that could be future students.

Jim Vagias– Adjudicator for Theatre

  • Producing Artistic Director at the American Theater Group.
    • Professional theater group that presents in Basking Ridge, NJ.
  • Involved in the entertainment industry since 1983.
  • Eager to provide support to the County’s students.

Frontline Arts– Non-profit local arts organization in Branchburg, NJ

  • Presented a visual arts workshop titled “Handmade Papermaking with Recycled Fabric.”
  • Works in papermaking and printmaking across NJ and the Eastern United States.

Students also had the opportunity to participate in 50 different workshop sessions and masterclasses taught by talented and diverse local artists, as well as professionals from the Philadelphia and New York areas. Some of the most popular workshops were the following:

  • Commercial Dance Choreography, taught by Christine Sampson
  • Handmade Papermaking from Recycled Fabric, taught by Frontline Arts
  • Painting Outside the Lines: An Abstract Art Adventure, taught by Seanna Noonan
  • Film Festival 101, taught by Albert Nigrin and Katherine Scrivani
  • GlassRoots; a mobile glassblowing studio that presented demonstrations for the students throughout the day.

Students that particularly excelled in their artistic discipline and showed immense skill, talent, and creativity were nominated by adjudicators to participate in the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival, which will be held on Monday, June 5, at Middlesex College. The following are a few of the schools nominated for the State Festival:

  • Hillsborough High School
    • Nominated in the categories of Large Group Vocal Music, Large Group Musical Theatre, and Small Group Musical Theatre
  • Branchburg Central Middle School
    • Nominated in the categories of Creative Writing, Small Group Instrumental Music, and Visual Art
  • Franklin High School
    • Nominated in the categories of Dance, Small Group Vocal Music, Guitar, and Visual Art

Additionally, two talented students were selected to participate in the New Jersey State Teen Arts Festival Visual Arts Traveling Exhibition. These two students will have their work tour multiple locations throughout New Jersey from August 2023-May 2024, showcasing their talent and creativity to a wide audience. These students are:

  • Marlene Morales, Age 15, Grade 9
    • Title of Piece: “Burden of Inspiration”
    • School: Bridgewater Raritan High School
  • William Skowyra, Age 14, Grade 8
    • Title of Piece: “Spooning”
    • School: Branchburg Central Middle School

The Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission is looking forward to next year’s Teen Arts Festival to be held in May 2024. Local schools are encouraged to learn more and participate in the fun-filled day.

Interested schools and teachers can contact the Cultural & Heritage Commission at 908-231-7110 or

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