In this fast-paced world, the fine arts, performing arts and music offer children unique ways of exploring, comprehending and communicating their feelings and ideas. The arts also introduce kids to the cultures and traditions that flourish in the world.

While art institutions across the nation are struggling to stay open, families from Middletown, New Jersey, and the surrounding areas have an affordable yet vibrant space to explore and enjoy the arts. The Middletown Arts Center (MAC) is located next to the Middletown train station in town.

MAC offers family-friendly programs, instructional classes and entertaining events. Executive director Maggie O’Brien and her star-studded team of educators, artists and performers brighten the faces of children and adults alike as they enter MAC’s doors.

The organization’s professional instructors are master ballroom competitors, recording artists and nationally exhibiting painters. They offer dozens of convenient day and evening classes for children of all ages and abilities. Yoga, ballroom dance, ballet, tap, acting, video game animation, fashion design, college art portfolio prep, sewing, song writing, guitar lessons, painting, drawing and many other wonderful programs and disciplines are available.

Perhaps you have heard of Art Kaney, also known as The Doodle Dude. At MAC, Kaney encourages kids to explore the world of cartooning, create dragons and design characters. There’s also Lisa Buono and Deena Burnette, who lead magical classes where princesses and princes leap high into the sky and sing to the beat. Another high-energy class is Two-Together Music, where singer and songwriter Miss Beth-Anne Arentsen brings the wonderful world of music to babies and moms as they groove, move and play instruments.

In addition, MAC has a program where children ages 12-14 can become one of the 400,000 students around the world to participate in Model United Nations. Coordinated by Black Rocket Productions, the program enables participants to assume the role of U.N. ambassadors asked to solve current, real-world issues and negotiate consensus with their peers. The young ambassadors learn tools that aid in public speaking, researching, writing, debating, problem solving, and allowing for compromise and cooperation. Model U.N. alumni have gone on to become Supreme Court Justices, world leaders, lawyers and famous Hollywood actors.

MAC also hosts award-winning theatrical events, concerts, exhibits, dance socials and community resources, including a successful Summer Arts Camp and Day-Off from School initiative. Perhaps the most exciting feature about the MAC is its affordable rates, which can offer a minimum savings of a few hundred dollars when compared to similar classes and events in the region.

Following an expansive renovation of its original building as a storage warehouse, MAC opened its doors in 2007. It now features a 23,000-square-foot facility dedicated to the arts with multiple classrooms, a dance studio, a theater, a computer lab and an art gallery. Its beautiful outdoor grounds feature expansive lawns, a pond, a patio and a 9/11 Memorial Garden— all ideal spaces for outdoor reflection, painting, yoga and concert performances. MAC has won numerous awards for its programs and handicapped-accessible design.

Visit The Middletown Arts Center at 36 Church St. to learn more about this magical facility in the heart of Middletown. For details on upcoming classes and events, call (732)706-4100 or log onto

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