Open Arts PAC is a non-profit performance and education venue that provides affordable space to independent artists and offers engaging programming. Our services include live performances, classes and workshops, and affordable rental space for artists. Open Arts PAC is committed to eliminating barriers of access to the arts for emerging and established artists as well as audience and community members. We started our work at Open Arts PAC in 2012, guided by our vision of creating a supportive creative community and providing artists with the training they need.
Executive Board Members:
Matt Litt, Attorney, NJ
Nancy Musco, Dress for Success Coordinator, Lawrenceville NJ
Krystal Gunning, Investors Bank Branch Manager, Bordentown NJ
Randy Ellis, Owner of Man Cave, Bordentown NJ
Juan Carlos, Marketing, Princeton NJ
Emmanuel Acosta, Professional Voice Coach, Bordentown NJ
Kyle Bethea (Student Member)
Joe Giancarli, Property Manager
Joe Giancarli has over 25 years of realtor experience in the central New Jersey counties of Mercer, Burlington, Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean, and Hunterdon area. Specializing in residential and commercial sales and investment for buyers and sellers, investors and new construction development.
Yearly, Joe represents more than 60 families fulfilling their dreams of home ownership. He is advisor to their housing and financial objectives. Raised in the construction trades, he is a specialist in new home sales. He considers it an obligation to ensure his clients have all the information and assistance they need for their real estate decisions, whether buying, selling, or purchasing a new home.
Joe has essentially taken a forgotten building located on Rt. 130, and brought it back to life—filling it with art, creativity, and fresh ideas for engaging our community. With the help of his leadership team, he has reimagined the space and created a home to showcase the artistic talents of this city, to inspire new artists, to educate, to see our neighbors, and to make new friends.
Open Arts PAC is now a catalyst for the promotion of artistic and cultural opportunities and contributes to improving the quality of life in Bordentown NJ.
Taniel Bennett-Howell, Executive Director
Taniel has over 18 years of experience in business management. As a business owner of a graphic design company, she presents cutting edge graphics and has a tremendous amount of experience in marketing, branding and promotions. She possess excellent communication and networking skills. Her business connections are continually growing and are found to be very profitable to Open Arts PAC.
She is responsible for helping Open Arts PAC become non-profit and serves as a member on the board of directors. She is an active volunteer mentor for Dress for Success of Mercer County.
To add to her talents, Taniel has over 16 years experience in acting, directing, and playwriting. She is known for her original play ‘Walls” and her one woman show “Woman of Many Faces.” She is the Director and Founder of “Zyon Ministries,” a faith based performing arts group that specializes in stage plays, short skits, and pantomime. She is a certified Sunday School Teacher and a future graduate of Apostolic Leadership Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Brian Baker, Development Manager
Brian comes to Open Arts PAC with a diverse background in communications and interpersonal skills and a lifelong interest in the arts. He has over two decades of experience in education with an extensive skill set in writing, editing, media/public relations, and over 15 years experience in government relations. He also has been active for years in children’s and workers’ rights coalitions and is adept at facilitating organization member relations.
His professional experience includes lobbying state and federal legislators on educational and employee issues for the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). His responsibilities focused on organizing members around association agendas, assisting members in interaction with lawmakers and campaigns for endorsed candidates, and presenting workshops for members on advocacy and personal growth. In addition, he coordinated membership activities related to human rights and environmental awareness.
Brian’s experience as a writer is extensive. As a staff member for three different labor unions, he wrote press releases, advisories, letters-to-editor, newsletters, op-ed pieces, advertisements, and organizational brochures. As a freelance writer, he has contributed stories to local, state, and national publications on issues as varied as entertainment, travel, and spirituality.
Brian graduated Magna Cum Laude from Siena College, Loudonville, NY, in 1978, receiving a B.A. in English. He has also taken graduate courses in business economics at State University of New York at Albany.
Matthew Litt, Professional Advisor
Matthew R. Litt is the Chairperson of Capehart Scatchard’s Appellate Practice & Persuasive Writing group. He served as an adjunct professor of legal writing at Seton Hall University Law School from 2009 through 2014. Mr. Litt is also the author of the historical bestseller Christmas 1945 – The Greatest Celebration in American History.
But what really gets him excited is Lincolnesq, the career counseling think tank he created to help attorneys and law students achieve their professional goals through one-on-one counseling and group workshops that strive for the perfect mix of inspiration and pragmatism. Mr. Matthew R. Litt urges law students and lawyers to follow their bliss, but because he believes it is the most practical and surest way to professional success, not because it is some pleasant and whimsical notion. With the unconventional tagline, Career Counseling and Workshops for the Bottom 90% of the Class, it’s clear from the start that Lincolnesq and Matthew Litt are approaching things a little bit differently.
Mr. Litt has created and spoken at innumerous seminars, but his unique career counseling philosophy has been built by listening. He listens to retired lawyers, young lawyers and law students, JDs-turned-entrepreneurs, career counselors and recruiters, Career Services directors, and he listens to the legal profession’s most progressive and traditional thinkers.
He received his B.A. in Political Science from Ithaca College in 1999, and earned his J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2002. Mr. Litt currently resides with his wife, Erin, and their three children, Max, Joe, and Nina, in Bordentown, New Jersey.
Mr. Litt practices throughout the state and federal courts of New York and New Jersey. He is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, and the U.S. District Courts of the Eastern, Southern and Northern Districts of New York.
Nacir Wyatt, Professional Acting Coach
Nacir’s interest in acting led him complete training at various schools, including The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts in 2012. Nacir has since used his incredible skills to land award-winning roles in both theatre and television. His most recent work includes the role of Derek in the 2013 short film “Scratch & Blow,” and his continual determination has casted him a major role in a forthcoming Motion Picture Film, “Clipped Wings They Do Fly.”
Along with building his acting career, Nacir is committed to serving the urban community. He currently works as a teaching artist for Passage Theatre Company, as well as coaches acting to young adults for the forthcoming play “Coming to Birmingham.”
Nacir truly believes that all hard work will be rewarded, and is a role model and inspiration to the younger generations. His favorite quote, “never fear failure,” inspires him in not only striving to be a great actor, but to leave an amazing legacy along the way.
MEET OUR RESIDENT COMPANIES
Sophie Taillefer, Rising Star Voice Studio
Sophie Taillefer is a French Canadian singer, stage director and vocal coach who now resides in Marlton NJ. She came to the United States in 1998 with an invitation to study at the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. Since then, she has entertained audiences in many venues.
Ms. Taillefer has many roles to her Opera repertoire such as Carmen, Dalila, Maddelena, Tisbe, La Principessa Hata, Katisha and much more. She was featured as a soloist for many American Opera Companies such as Philadelphia Opera, Ash-Lawn Opera, Opera Cleveland, Brooklyn Opera and made her debut at Carnegie Hall with Opera Pacific.
As a pop singer Sophie Taillefer worked with names such as David Foster for his Grand Canadian Concert for Queen Elizabeth II. She was soloist with the Cirque Du Soleil for their Opera Circus and was back up singer soloist with the well renowned French Canadian Singer Diane Dufresne for her tour “Detournement Majeur”. Ms. Taillefer has directed and performed her solo recital called “La Belle Époque” for many French Alliances all around the U.S. including Charlottesville, Cleveland, Buffalo, New Orleans and Philadelphia.
Sophie Taillefer’s latest creative venture is as the founder and director of Rising Stars Voice Studio, where she transmits her love of music to the younger generation. Sophie has directed her Rising Stars in many shows including The Pirates of Penzance, Kiss Me Kate, Les Miserables, Beauty and The Beast, Annie, Sweeney Todd, Beauty and the Beast, Seussical, Hairspray, Legally Blonde, Oz, and The Little Mermaid.
Her students go on to sing on main stages such as the Walnut Street Theatre, McCarter, Kelsey etc.. She also prepares her vocal students to get into prestigious schools such as Westminster College, Mount Clare University, Manhattan School Of Music, etc..
Ms Taillefer has a passion for teaching kids and creating opportunities for them to achieve confidence and experience on Stage.
Alisha Cardenas, Central NJ Ballet Theatre
Alisha Cardenas (Artistic Director) originally hails from Atlanta, GA. Her training includes the Georgia Ballet, The Bravo Dance Centre and The Kennesaw School of Dance. Cardenas was accepted and attended the Cobb County School of Performing Arts majoring in Dance and minoring in Drama/Theatre. After high school, she was accepted to the University of Georgia’s performance company The UGA Ballet Ensemble. While attending The University of GA, she danced the role of Myrtha and Demi-Soloist from the romantic ballet Giselle, was a member of the Corps de Ballet and danced many of the companies repertory pieces. Past mentors include, Marina Levasheva from the Georgia Ballet and Bravo Dance Centre, Janet Robertson and Joan Buttram from the University of Georgia and Mary and Karen Rau from The Kennesaw School of Dance. Cardenas also attended the Second City and The Improv Olympic in Chicago, where she preformed, produced and choreographed numerous shows in the Chicago area. Students that she has trained have gone on to programs such as The American Ballet Theatre (ABT), Joffery Ballet NYC, The Rock School for Dance Education, The Rockettes Summer Intensive and American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). She is excited that her dream of becoming a director and owner of a school that stresses the fundamentals of ballet is coming true, and looks forward to meeting and training all her wonderful students.
Jennifer Szeto, Leaping Dog Art Studio
Jennifer Szeto has always had a passion for creativity. She found the perfect outlet to express that in teaching. Prior to opening Leaping Dog Art Studios on Route 130 in Bordentown, she taught art for 10 years in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Szeto earned a degree in illustration from Syracuse University, followed by a masters degree in art teaching from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She has also taken classes in London (Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design) and New York City (Art Student’s League).