By Deanna McGill | Photography by Dero Sanford | Makeup by Vannette Vititow with Barbara Jean
The state’s motto “land of opportunity” reflects the landscape of the arts community in Central Arkansas. Thanks to people like Judy Tenenbaum, who are invested in the prosperity of all arts organizations, the future is bright. Judy Tenenbaum and Vincent Insalaco shared a vision for a venue that’s purpose is inclusive and nurturing of performing arts and education in North Little Rock. Argenta Community Theater will welcome guests to Encore for Education: 10th Anniversary Celebration honoring Judy and her legacy as a philanthropist in Central Arkansas.
Argenta Community Theater was established as a beacon for young people to engage in community and theater. “We believe very strongly that the performing arts are a critical part of a student’s education and development,” Vincent notes. The multi-faceted, multi-use location of ACT shares a block with the THEA Foundation in Argenta of North Little Rock, anchoring what is now the hub of a flourishing artistic district.
For more than a decade, Judy has rallied and encouraged civic-minded constituents to support the theater through contributions of donations, volunteer hours and dedicated performance participation. Argenta Community Theater promotes the arts through its productions and collaborations with other nonprofit organizations like Arkansas Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled, Festival of the South, Laman Library and others groups that enrich the lives of Arkansans, especially those who are sometimes overlooked.
At the heart of community theater is a shared experience among people who care about the craft as well as the community. Vincent explains, “We want to educate and engage our audiences with diverse and challenging topics with the best talent in the state, as we continue to provide a top-quality community theater. Through our facility we hope to strengthen cooperation among nonprofit organizations as well.”
“Not only does it take a village, but an entire state to help keep a facility like Argenta Community Theater going,” Judy reflects as she recounts the accomplishments of the theater. Despite her humility, Judy’s nitty-gritty involvement in its evolution is an indisputable factor. Judy explains, “I want to contribute and be a part of creating opportunities for others. I never financially support any cause that won’t allow me to dedicate myself and my time. I like being hands-on.”
Argenta Community Theater’s growth continues with a robust education outreach program. ACTing Up Summer Camp is the flagship program that reflects the unwavering commitment to the arts in education. Programming has expanded to include the PACT Scholarship Program for scholarships and class credits for students who work on the set, the Second ACT education program for adults, Lunch & Learn performances for students and an ACANSA Spring Break Camp. These initiatives are impressive and complement the unparalled stage productions that have doubled in numbers from two to four annually.
The importance of community engagement in the arts is a timely concern. Government budget cuts have removed art education in schools resulting in a void. Like other nonprofit organizations, diligent efforts are made to create funding for the opportunities that ACT provides in this absence. Judy’s stalwart vision and steadfast support, coupled with her volunteerism and advocacy, continue to bring performances and partners into the theater. “I believe it is up to all of us to make available facilities like Argenta Community Theater to give kids and adults a place to learn, create and gain self-confidence through the arts.”