“I can’t imagine living in a world without the arts.” Those are the word of the late Princeton resident Gerda Goldberg Kelly.

Although the lover of the arts died in 2017 at the age of 97, she is suddenly very much a presence today with the fresh announcement that a $712,000 gift from her estate is going to Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania, located at 200 Forrestal Road in Plainsboro.

Young Audiences calls it the second largest gift in the nonprofit arts education organization’s history and says it will support its endowment and scholarship fund. Both enable the organization support its mission to “inspire young people and to expand their learning through the arts.”

That learning is both expressive and academic and aligned with the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards in the Arts and the National Core Arts Standards.

However, there was something more than academics that affected the donor whose personal background as an immigrant to the United States provides a time to reflect on what such a person can bring to a new home during this time when immigrants are being maligned.

As information regarding the donation reports, “Gerda Goldberg Kelly was born in 1919 and fled Nazi Germany at the age of 18, first to England then to the United States. She arrived in the U.S. aboard the SS United States on July 4, 1947. Becoming a U.S. citizen would become one of her proudest moments. Trained as a nanny, she worked in Great Neck, New York, where she met John Kelly, who was the personal assistant to the world-renowned pianist Paul Wittgenstein. The two were married in 1961, eventually relocating to New York City, where Gerda worked as a legal secretary. The couple eventually relocated to the Princeton area.”

That there seems to be some power that unexpectedly pulls people to the arts seems evident from the statement. It is also something indicated in the story in this issue, “No Short Order of Art or Hope for A-Team Founder.”

It’s a story where a young Trenton man named Herman Rose becomes transformed through the arts in the most unlikely place, Rahway Prison; helps create an arts studio at another unlikely place, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen; and is now participating in a group show as part of the Princeton Festival. That show is in conjunction with the festival’s opera production, “Nixon in China,” also reviewed in this issue.

Born worlds apart, Ms. Kelly and Mr. Rose would find a lot in common through the arts. And such is part of its power. As Gerda Goldberg Kelly put it, “I believe that arts education makes better people and ultimately a better world.”

U.S. 1 is, of course, committed to its coverage of the arts in the greater Princeton area. And you can help: submit your listings of upcoming events to events@princetoninfo.com. If available, include high-resolution photographs in the e-mail.

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