The 7 Best New Jersey Towns To Support Your Kids’ Love of the Arts

Dec 20, 2022

If you have a “theater kid,” future Picasso, gifted musician or stand-up comic in your household, these artsy suburbs in New Jersey will help spark their creativity and feed their love of the performing arts.

Have an artist in your crew? Add these New Jersey suburbs to your list – they’re ideal  for budding artists, musicians, dancers, and more.

#1. Millburn-Short Hills, NJ

For theater lovers, Millburn-Short Hills is the place to be. The Tony award-winning Paper Mill Playhouse is known for putting on high-quality shows that often go on to Broadway. Kids can sign up for summer camps or workshops and can even audition for musical theater training programs. The nearby Performers Theatre Workshop (PTW) offers comedy, singing, acting and dance classes for kids as young as three. PTW students have performed in well-known Broadway shows, like Mamma Mia and The Lion King, as well as a variety of TV shows and movies.

Aspiring artists in grades K-12 can sign up for classes at One River School. Workshop topics include digital art, manga, street art, cartooning and more. Art e Vino also hosts birthday parties for kids ages 6 and up. Everyone will get to paint their own canvas and deluxe parties come with pizza and juice boxes.

Dancers can also take Bollywood–style classes with the Arya Dance Academy at the Community Congregational Church in Short Hills. Programs are offered for everyone ages 4 and older.

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#2. Montclair, NJ

Montclair is big on the arts and kids can join the Essex Youth Theater to hone their acting skills. For over 30 years this theater has focused on helping kids gain confidence and enjoy being on stage. The theater puts on both musicals and plays so little ones can have the chance to find what they like best. The New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts is also based in Montclair. This program prides itself in offering serious classes for kids where they can gain experience in improv, film and acting.

Kids ages 3-18 can join Madlom to express their creativity through drumming, modern dance and ballet. Older students can also sign up for a playwriting course for exposure to a different side of the creative process. Creative enrichment classes are held at the YMCA for kids and families. Browse the calendar for the latest offerings which may include cooking, painting and dance classes.

The Montclair Art Museum hosts classes for kids and teens covering everything from mixed media to pottery. Families love to visit the museum together on Sundays to join in the weekly art-making activity. There’s a School of Rock location in Montclair for little ones who want to learn an instrument or practice with a band.

#3. Summit, NJ

Summit is home to two excellent dance studios. The Summit School of Dance offers hip-hop, ballet, jazz and tap programs for kids from beginner to competitive levels. In the summer they host a dance camp covering a variety of styles to give kids a chance to find what they love. For more than 50 years the New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble has also trained local pre-professional artists in ballet and modern dance. Alumni have been accepted to prestigious performing arts schools including Juilliard and USC.

Outside of dance, there’s the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey for painting and ceramics classes. Kid workshops are offered during school break so keep an eye on the calendar for upcoming offerings.

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#4. Ridgewood, NJ 

Young Ridgewood artists can take watercolor, oil painting and drawing classes at The Ridgewood Art Institute. This studio has been an integral part of the local art scene since 1935. Kids can enter their artwork into a gallery show for a chance to win a scholarship. And if your little ones are really into painting, they can host their next birthday party at the local Pinot’s Palette where they can create a masterpiece alongside all of their friends. Check the town’s calendar for next year’s Art in the Park event sponsored by Pinot’s Palette. This is a fun community-wide event where artists and musicians of all ages can showcase their work.

Kids who are more into music and performing arts can take lessons at The Ridgewood Conservatory. More than 30 experienced teachers lead instrumental music, voice acting, dance and musical theater classes at this studio. They recently added a Suzuki-plus! Violin Program to the schedule which encourages kids to learn music through exposure and repetition.

#5. Princeton, NJ 

There are tons of art studios scattered around Princeton. The Arts Council of Princeton hosts dance, drawing, ceramics, painting and other creative classes for kids and teens. At Katelyn Liepins’ Studio, families can take painting and sketching classes together. Private lessons are also offered for a more tailored experience.

Serious artists can join the Princeton Academy of Art for technical training in drawing and painting. Courses are offered for ages 7-18 and high school students can build on their college admissions portfolios. Alumni have been accepted at the Rhode Island School of Art & Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, Cornell University and many other prestigious art programs.

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#6. Morristown, NJ

The Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown fosters creativity through inclusive performing arts programs for kids of all abilities. The schedule includes musical theater, vocal and Miracle Program courses. Private coaching sessions are also available. Students aged 13 and up can audition for the Performing Arts Company for a chance to perform Broadway-style shows in venues around New Jersey.

Local high school artists can join the Young Artist Mentoring Program to learn from other creatives and enhance their portfolios before college. This is just one of the many community arts programs put on in Morristown. Downtown turns into an art and music hub on select summer Thursdays and residents wander the streets to take in all of the performances.

#7. Maplewood, NJ

Young comedians can join Maplewood’s Rocket Improv group for a chance to be creative and learn new techniques. Classes are offered for kids in grades 1-12 and older students can perform with the ensemble group. LaChaney’s Dance and Music Academy puts on music and dance classes in its Maplewood location. Little ones as young as two years old can join a pre-dance class and more advanced performers can audition for the studio’s Performing Arts Company. In addition to dance, students can sign up for piano, guitar and drum lessons.

If your kids love to craft they can take a class at Express Yourself Studios. This locally owned studio offers pottery, painting and drawing classes along with birthday parties and school break workshops. Funky Fun Art also puts on arts and crafts workshops and summer camps that help little ones use their imagination.

Ready to explore the art scene in the suburbs? Let us help! Get in touch today and we’ll help you discover the town that is a perfect fit for your unique lifestyle.

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