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Art Creates Excellence

by Marianne Lods, Executive Director, Millville Development Corporation

July marks the 20th anniversary of the Art Creates Excellence (ACE) summer camp for youth. It is a remarkable program that we began at the debut of the Glasstown Arts District in July of 2000. The program has had many variations over the years, but the primary goal has been to enrich the lives of community members, especially the children.

Enrollment begins in early April each year. We have partnered with Millville Public Schools’ art department. They distribute the brochure/registration forms. Art teachers may recommend children for our scholarship program.

Classes are divided by age groups that are: 7 to 9, 10 to 12, and 13 to 18 years of age. Many attend over multiple years and we love watching them grow and mature each summer when they return to ACE. The two younger age groups attend from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and the teens are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Most of the funds that finance this endeavor are from a few New Jersey foundations, individual gifts, and tuition fees. Prices for tuition have never been increased over the years. The kids are instructed by professional artists. Many are or have been art teachers, but not all. The curricula changes each of the four weeks and most of the artists do not teach the same groups two years in a row. This keeps the creativity fresh and exciting for the kids.

One of the most popular weeks is at the Clay College (Rowan of South Jersey Arts & Innovation Center) located at 321 N. High Street. Sculpting in clay, having it fired in the kilns and painting the pieces is an experience that often is new to most of the children. This year’s enrollment was so strong, we added an extra class and teacher.

The remaining three weeks is held at the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts at 22 N. High Street. We utilize two classrooms and the smaller Witt Gallery in the building. At the end of each week, the student artwork is hung in the Witt Gallery. An exhibit and recognition ceremony is held on the last day of the ACE camp. This year it will be on August 2, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

There have been several success stories over the years. Our older high school students have been mentored by artists to develop their portfolios if they want to apply to art colleges and universities. Some have received college scholarships and then found work in galleries in New York City and Philadelphia. One young woman has a successful studio and business creating ceramic pottery in North Carolina. A young man has a successful illustration business in designing characters for animated films. We are so proud of these successful artists.

Having a background in art adds to the richness of life no matter what path a student follows for his/her career. Visual art and music often assist students in their studies in many disciplines.

Enrollment is welcome from throughout the county and bordering townships like Pittsgrove, Newfield, Buena, etc. Scholarships are only available to Millville school students.

To contact us for next summer, send an e-mail to or phone 856-293-0556. Keep up with news from the Arts District on Facebook @Millville Glasstown Arts District.

Millville Matters