Community Programs

The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey’s community programming serves the rich and diverse communities of Union, Hudson, Essex, Sussex, and Somerset counties. The one thread that runs throughout VACNJ’s community programming is the concept that art is not a thing to study and master, but a way to weave together community support through creative engagement. These programs center on the value of community-held authorship and integrate diverse backgrounds of class, gender, ethnicity, and life circumstance to focus on health and vibrancy and how this can be accessed with the power of imagination and creation.

Through our community programs, we work alongside partners throughout the region to impact a variety of focus areas, from working with public school students who lack the resources for formal arts education and exposure to museum exhibitions to providing arts-based health and healing initiatives to those in need of specialized programming.

To learn more, follow the links below, or contact Rachel Aponte, Director of Education & Community Engagement, at

The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey works with public school students to provide resources for formal arts education and exposure to museum exhibitions, including our longstanding partnership with Jefferson Arts Academy, the PEP Program, and Elizabeth Public Schools. Our unique collaboration with Cultures and Literacies through Art for the 21st Century (CALTA21) focuses on connecting immigrant English language learners and museums together to provide authentic, meaningful, and engaging experiences that foster learning, enjoyment, and civic engagement while supporting the development of participants’ voices in expressing art. Finally, our partnership with Empowering Kids Organization (EKO) connects underprivileged children and their families with unique arts experiences, ultimately providing scholarships for our Studio School classes for kids interested in continuing to explore the arts. 

The Art Center’s arts-based health and healing initiatives for those in need of specialized programming to help individuals manage their emotions and feelings through artistic expression. These programs, led by experienced art therapists, create a supportive and nurturing environment where participants can explore their feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Our arts and healing programs provide a unique and powerful tool to help manage emotions and cope with the life’s challenges. By using art as a form of self-expression, participants can develop a sense of empowerment and confidence that will serve them well throughout their lives. 

VACNJ’s Arts and Healing programs targeting vulnerable populations, including formerly incarcerated individuals and formerly houseless veterans, are made possible by the generous support of The Nicholson Foundation.

The Art Center is a certified professional development provider of the New Jersey Department of Education and offers a variety of innovative ways for art educators to earn professional development hours.

Our programs are designed for pre-K to 12th-grade art educators and incorporate innovative exhibitions, interaction with contemporary artists, and access to our renowned Studio School.  We help educators enhance their skills and enliven their classrooms! In addition, our gallery education tours and in-school custom programs provide a unique opportunity to bring students out of the classroom and in touch with contemporary art.

The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey offers exhibition tours designed to complement and enrich each visitor’s museum experience. Tours are led by trained docents who encourage visitors to view, learn, and share their ideas about the works of art on view. From school groups to college students and adults, art lovers of all ages will deepen their understanding of contemporary art.