Getting artsy in New Brunswick..By Bridgette Fossel

Here is a riddle: What combines different types of art, has blue and white all over their website, and is located in New Brunswick?

If you guessed coLAB Arts, then you might have a very high I.Q or are possibly part of the organization itself. This non-profit is located in New Brunswick and is something that Princeton needs to hear about.

After coming across their website, a friend and I found ourselves at a coLAB fundraising event at a lovely home in New Brunswick a few Thursdays ago. The smooth sounds coming from the live Jazz band, the aroma of delicious catered food and the make-shift art gallery passed through the warm humid evening air and greeted your senses upon entering the event.

CoLAB is an organization whose mission is to combine different groups of artisits in theater, dance, film, visual art, writing and music, into one community and provide a space for artists to showcase their talents through performances or exhibits. The gallery manager, Theresa Francisco, explained to me that she feels there is a slight disconnection with the arts at Mason Gross and coLAB wants to ease that separation and bring those different art crowds together from the New Brunswick community in general.

“CoLAB is very interesting because it was originally started by Dan Swern and a number of other Rutgers Mason Gross students who were looking for an opportunity to do art. So they started something called the Lab Theater Company in 2006 and developed that a bit with collaborative arts. Through that they looked around and said ‘okay we are at Mason Gross, there is an opportunity for us there…but then what? Where do you go during the in-between-being-a-student-and-being-a-professional-artist period?’ And that’s where coLAB comes in” explained the chairman on the Board of Directors, James Ford-Hutchinson.

The benefits from this fundraising event for coLAB’s involvement with the New Brunswick Theater Festival, which starts Wednesday, August 31st, , came from the donations that people made at the door in addition to a portion of the profits made from the beautiful art pieces that were auctioned off in the make-shift art gallery throughout the evening.

After the sun had set and chicken, beans, pasta salad and fruit were consumed by all, the party-goers were treated to a very entertaining performance of an abridged version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed by seven young talented actors from New Brunswick High School who are also involved with coLAB.

“Tonight was really about the give and about getting the support that we need to be successful. We really want to grow and continue from the strong foundation that we have today and to grow into something bigger and better” said Artistic Director John Keller after the standing ovation had ended following the performance.

In addition to their involvement with the New Brunswick Theater Festival, coLAB has opportunities for everyone to get involved through their MusicLABs, puppet slam, dance performances and an art gallery that constantly has exhibits from different artists.

“CoLAB is really great for New Brunswick because it gives a chance for all of the artists of different genres to work together; dancers, painters, and musicians. People in the theater arts are usually segmented but there is so much that can be done through collaboration.” said artist and Rutgers student Morgan Daley whose art pieces were being auctioned off at the fundraiser, “Tonight there is the gallery and the theater setting as well. That interaction between them I feel is really important.”

The mission of coLAB is going to be a big contribution to keeping the arts alive for this generation. Taking the quick and easy 40 minute drive down Route 1 will be well worth your time if you choose to attend some of their upcoming events:

August 5th: 9:30pm musicLAB

August 11th 7pm  Show of John Cambridge Works  

August 12th 7pm Comedy Show , 9:30 Music show

Check out their blue and white themed and highly informative website at: http://www.colab-arts.org/