NEW BRUNSWICK,NJ—coLAB Arts, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to funding emerging artists in New Brunswick, is starting 2015 off strong with a series of programs for students, families, writers, and other interested community members.
The organization says the goal of its 2015 programs are "to holistically engage and discuss current social issues, and strengthen its presence and impact in the New Brunswick community."
At noon on January 17, there will be a free writer's workshop known as "thePEN," part of a brand new literary club series called litLAB, held at the Henry Guest House, located next to the New Brunswick Free Public Library at 60 Livingston Avenue.
Jad Kaado, director of litLAB, is also a writer for this newspaper. He says he hopes to create a space where New Brunswickers can feel free to develop their skills while expressing themselves freely.
"“LitLAB is a new project by coLAB arts, which focuses on engaging the community through the literary arts," writes Kaado in an email. "Our creative writing workshop will allow for local writers to get together and compose pieces based around a theme."
Kaado's new project will also be comprised of a monthly book club known simply as "theBOOK."
"We want to promote a healthy discussion on current social issues, all while providing an opportunity for community members to express their views through art."
Also on January 17 is the organization's "Winter Stakeholder's Party" at Pino's in Highland Park.
"Join us to celebrate a year of successful programming and meet all of the artists and project partners who make it possible," reads the online invitation. Reservations are encouraged and one can do so by emailing [email protected]
There will be hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar, and a selection of specialty wines and craft beers.
In addition to litLAB, coLAB is also introducing a new workshop series this month called filmLAB, headed by Kyra Willans, an emerging screenwriter.
Willans indicates her goal is "to provide opportunities for anyone with even the slightest interest in writing for film and television to be able to cultivate the skills necessary to do so."
On January 15, a general interest meeting for the project took place at Hidden Grounds Coffee Shop on Easton Avenue.
Willans says she wants to guage the interests of beginner, intermediate, and advanced screenwriters and motivate them to submit their work into various local and national competitions.
"It's my hope that programming like this supports New Brunswick as a creative hub for writers, filmmakers, and artists."
filmLAB will also serve as a movie club, with screenings of independent films, foreign films, and other works at no charge.
Movies will be screened at the Alfa Art Gallery on Church Street in downtown New Brunswick, and a discussion will follow.
On January 22 at 6:30pm, the gallery will be a showing of the 1995 French film "La Haine," starring Vincent Cassel, Saïd Taghmaoui and Hubert Koundé. The film, which touches on issues of race, class, and police conduct in a housing project of Paris.
From 6-8pm on January 29, World of Beer on George Street is hosting another free coLAB event, "Story Slam," where everyone is invited to delivver a story based on their own experiences at this "open mic" event.
coLAB has produced a successful Story Slam in the past at the Crossroads Theatre.
Now the organization is establishing a story slam series known as "theVOM," hosted by Rutgers University Oral Historian Molly Graham and Dusty Ballard of George Street Playhouse.
The event description says that theVOM's first story slam will focus on "the role of social media in discussions of race, equality, and justice."
All of these events are free and open to the public. For more information on any of the events, email [email protected]
Editor's Note: The author of this article is a membor of coLAB Arts.