New Victory LabWorks, Partner Program With Snug Harbor, Brings Theater, Performing Arts To Young Audiences In Staten Island, New York City, Exposing Children To New Forms Of Creative Expression

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New Victory LabWorks, a partnership between the New Victory Theater and Staten Island’s Snug Harbor, is a program that seeks to bring art and performance to young audiences. At the program, children are introduced to many forms of creativity, and they are allowed to participate in ways that are constructive and liberating, with few rules to guide their behavior.

This is a rare experience for most children, who are often told to sit still and not interrupt. This program at the New Victory LabWorks allows children to give full expression to their own creativity, and can also help them to see themselves in the artists and other members of the creative team that they are working with.

By inviting feedback from young audiences, and allowing their participation, it becomes easier for them to see themselves in the roles that they are filling. A child who has never experienced performance art can assist in various ways, both in providing feedback as well as in helping to create the experience. Kids can help with various aspects of putting on a play, getting to see that they, too, could potentially create plays and other forms of expression, and even make a living from doing so.

The New Victory LabWorks also commissioned a study on the effects that exposure to performance art, and specifically theatre, can have on children, and it presented some very interesting conclusions. Most importantly, by exposing children, between the ages of 5 and 10, to the performing arts, they had a greater sense of hope than a control group of their peers who were not so exposed.


This effect was seen most prominently in children who were brought to the theater at this young age. It made the strongest and most lasting impression on this age group. While theater was also helpful for those in older age groups, it did not have the same powerful effect on them.

This is an incredible finding, and one that deserves to be recognized and nurtured in our school systems. By showing that there is real benefit to exposing children to performing arts, schools and other educational institutions can instill that hope in young children simply by bringing them to the theater.

New Victory LabWorks Artists. Image Credit – New Victory LabWorks

Laura and Mary spoke on the requirements for artists to become part of the program. There is a board of individuals, partly composed of the children for whom the performances are made, who act as judges to determine which artists are accepted to the program. At this time, in order to promote equity in this opportunity, the New Victory LabWorks theater is accepting only BIPOC applicants, which includes many minority groups.

Artists given a place in the program receive a monthly stipend with which to pay for their creations, as well as for rent and other living expenses.

Two of the artists have been interviewed by the Staten Islander, Sifiso Mabena and Reynado Piniella.

Sifiso is a playwright, puppeteer, and performer, and creates plays at the New Victory LabWorks. Reynaldo is an actor, and has created a Pokemon-type game inviting participation of young people, teaching them through play how to make real change in their world through political and other types of activism.


New Victory LabWorks has been working with four artists each year, chosen by the Board of Directors and local young people as participants. You can learn more about the program by visiting their website at https://www.newvictory.org/about/labworks/

Banner Image: New Victory LabWorks Interview Banner. Image Credit – Staten Islander News


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This byline indicates that this article was penned by a member/members of the Staten Islander News Organization office team. Our staff writers are the backbone of our newspaper, performing all sorts of important tasks like conducting interviews, investigating leads, besides writing the news stories you see.

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