The NJ Governor’s Awards in Arts Education (NJGAAE) Program endeavors to:
● Provide a public forum for the Governor and Commissioner of Education to recognize a select group of students and adult leaders for their achievements in arts education;
● Spread awareness at the State Government Executive level about the achievements in arts education by New Jersey’s students and adult leaders;
● Increase public awareness of the high level of excellence in arts education in New Jersey’s schools, and provide public recognition for the school, agencies, and school districts represented by the award recipients;
● Increase public awareness of the state organizations that support and recognize high-quality arts education.
The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education (NJGAAE) program was established in 1980 by the Alliance for Arts Education and the NJ State Department of Education to celebrate artistic excellence and create visibility, awareness, and appreciation for the impact that the arts have on our lives and culture by highlighting the achievements of students and leaders in arts education in New Jersey.
When the Alliance for Arts Education dissolved in 2004, the Department of Education invited Friends of Teen Arts, Inc. to become its new co-sponsor. The Friends of Teen Arts, Inc hosted the State Teen Arts Festival and approximately 8,000 students performed or exhibited, representing 225 different schools from all 21 counties. During the last few years of that alignment, the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education was the the State Festival’s culminating event. In 2007, Arts Ed NJ (formerly known as NJ Arts Education Partnership) became the program’s sole manager.
The program is conducted in cooperation with a Planning Council of statewide organizations committed to furthering inclusion of the arts in all New Jersey’s students’ educational lives.
The purpose of the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education program is to promote awareness and appreciation for the arts by honoring individual students in grades 9 through 12 and to honor adult leaders who have demonstrated excellence in and dedication to arts education.
An annual award ceremony – free and open to the public – is held every May. Recent events have been held at the Trenton War Memorial. Medallions and proclamations signed by the Governor are presented to each recipient. Throughout the ceremony, students perform in the arts disciplines for which they are being honored and guests including the Commissioner of Education, State Board of Education members, and the Secretary of State present speeches in support of the arts. A presentation of award-winning artwork is available to guests before and after the ceremony.
What Makes Us Different
Across the country, the Governor’s Awards programs share similar goals; however, New Jersey sets itself apart. The unique nomination process is like no other and involves national and statewide organizations with the shared goal of upholding the integrity of the program through their award nominations. The event itself is one of a kind. The program brings together award winners from all over the state with numbers averaging 80 to 100 students and 20 leaders in arts education each year. New Jersey students are the ultimate beneficiaries of the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education, and this is what makes us unique. We applaud and acknowledge their talents, effort, dedication, and passion for excellence.
The Planning Council
The Planning Council is responsible for determining policy for the program in conjunction with the NJGAAE cosponsors. Members of the Planning Council disseminate information about the program, conduct the process for selecting award recipients, and assist with the coordination of the annual ceremony. The student recipients are selected for their exemplary work in creative writing, speech, dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, and the leaders for their exceptional commitment and contribution to arts education. The program also recognizes arts educators and arts education advocates whose leadership has helped nurture the development of students in the arts across the state.
The Planning Council consists of representatives from the following statewide and national organizations: the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics; Art Educators of New Jersey; Art Administrators of New Jersey; Dance New Jersey; New Jersey Council of Teachers of English; New Jersey Speech and Debate League; New Jersey Music Educators Association; New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey; New Jersey Thespians and Young Audiences of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.