Perkins Center for the Arts is a regional, multi-disciplinary arts education center that supports all elements of our communities. From individual visual, musical, and performing arts on-site instruction to in-school residency programs and arts integration programs, to diverse programming through the Perkins Folklife Center, exhibitions and concerts, Perkins supports working, teaching and emerging artists at every level of creative capacity.  Perkins has provided a summer camp for more than 30 years which provides scholarship opportunities for children from the City of Camden as well as students throughout Burlington and Camden Counties. Students in Perkins classes and workshops range from age 3 to age 93.  Exhibitions and concerts attract artists from throughout the tri-state region and mid-Atlantic states.  The Center boasts a 43-year history of providing arts education opportunities and community outreach.

Perkins has been forced to close its doors and cancel all onsite Spring programming, and its most significant fundraiser of the year, Handcrafted. Perkins immediately pivoted its Conservatory of Music lessons online. and has provided professional development and support for teaching artists in an effort to complete residency programs (which assist schools in meeting NJ State education standards).  Perkins has also developed online galleries as a means of providing emerging artists opportunities to exhibit and sell work.

A focus on creating innovative online content has begun with programs currently in development.  The Perkins podcast is under development as well and will be unveiled within the next 4 weeks.  Perkins is working to provide equitable and accessible programming for all of the communities we serve, however, there are some significant, systemic obstacles to providing equitable access.  Perkins is working with community partners to help bridge these gaps.  Despite all of this work in under 6 weeks, Perkins is still faced with financial losses of more than $120,000 in the near term.

Perkins’ primary focus has been to support the arts community by providing resources, training, professional development, and employment opportunities for working artists and the greater community.  Perkins is an economic contributor to the southern New Jersey region that provides employment opportunities for working visual & performing artists, musicians, emerging artists and promotes community engagement.  Perkins also values and celebrates the arts as essential to our humanity.  The social-emotional, mental, and physical benefits of arts engagement are central to building healthy individuals and communities.  Over the last three years, Perkins has touched the lives of more than 100,000 individuals through its programs, classes, workshops, lessons, concerts, public programs, creation stations, in-school residencies, community partnership programs, and events.

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Kahra Buss, Executive Director, Perkins Center for the Arts

With a 20 year history of managing, developing and leading small and start-up non-profits, Kahra Buss joined Perkins Center for the Arts in 2018. As a 1992 graduate of Bucknell University, Buss began her non-profit career with the International Development Conference in Washington DC focusing on the impact of youth education systems in developing countries. A degree in International Relations with a focus on African Studies and Third World Development provided a broad base of experience in both program and financial development. Following several non-profit, management roles in Membership, Fundraising, Special Events Management and Communications Buss helped to establish the grassroots non-profit, Live Civilly in 2011. As the Executive Director of Perkins Center for the Arts, Buss’ goal is to provide innovative leadership techniques to help the mature Center enter the next phase programming growth and increase public outreach through inventive, community-based initiatives.

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