Alexandria Pieroni is the founder and executive director of The Kids on the Block New Jersey, an educational puppet performance company. She currently divides her time in this role and as managing director for the Atlantic City Ballet.
Her career began, after graduating from the College of New Jersey with a B.A. in communications and theater, by directing and acting in numerous productions in local and regional theaters. In 1994, she started Hands On Education, a theatrical touring company, which performed original programs including Stories On Stage, which promoted literacy, to elementary school students, by bringing famous works of literature to life.
In 1999, she founded The LBI Foundation Children’s Theater Program and was artistic director for 14 years. Interested in all aspects of non-profit management, she honed her administrative skills by obtaining a professional certificate in arts management from SUNY, Purchase. Along the way, she has been the festival director of the Jersey Shore Film Festival and marketing director of the Bordentown PAC.
Here are some of Alexandria Pieroni‘s observations about the benefits of arts and business partnerships and community service.
What was your motivation in launching The Kids on the Block New Jersey, and what did you hope to achieve? Launching The Kids on the Block was a labor of love for me. I became a Kids on the Block puppeteer right out of college, and it was the perfect combination of my love for performing and my desire to present a message of inclusion.
In what specific ways has this work succeeded, particularly through community service? Our programs teach specific prevention, leadership and problem-solving skills while encouraging children to interact fully and positively in their schools and community. When we teach children to be empathetic and good citizens they take these lessons into adulthood and become a socially productive member of their community.
How do you think the programs at the Atlantic City Ballet benefit those in the area? Bringing the arts into a community, especially a community like Atlantic City with so many challenges brings people together. It is a shared community event. Not to mention that the arts has enormous economic impact by bringing jobs, driving tourism and inspiring young minds.
What strategies do you use to encourage community service through both organizations? You have to find out what the needs are in the community. Every community is different, with different challenges and knowing what those challenges are and making an effort to address those challenges is key.
Can you point to ways that arts and business partnerships have benefited these programs? With both organizations I work in very different sectors. The Kids on the Block New Jersey works primarily in the educational sector so we look to businesses to help fund these programs both on a statewide and local level. We look to create partnerships within each individual school district and in doing so we are able to bring these programs free of charge. For the Atlantic City Ballet our partnerships are slightly different. The connection is more sustaining. We’ve had partnerships with local businesses for quite a few years and they’ve helped us grow our audiences.
Can you offer any suggestions for building these types of mutually beneficial connections? All relationships take nurturing and cultivation. You can’t create meaningful partnerships unless you invest the time in them.
What tips would you offer to others interested in doing meaningful and creative work to fortify their communities? Follow your passion. If you believe in something find out how that can be useful to your community,and go out and make it happen. The most successful organizations and leaders that I have met and worked with have passion for what they do.
The Kids on the Block New Jersey is currently performing across the state for 2019/20 school year. To bring them to your local school district go to www.thekidsontheblocknj.org.