Our Mission

  • As an arts education and creative learning organization, the mission of The Institute for the Development of Education in the Arts (IDEA) is to connect underserved youth and their families to the life affirming quality of the arts. Our work is about building more socially resourceful and vibrant communities by strengthening the human potential through creativity, culture and arts based learning.

  • As part of our mission, we also seek to build economic empowerment thru training and supporting regional youth and adults in entrepreneurship along with employment training in multi-media, while bettering digital literacy skills for the creative economy.  We will also strive to nurture artistic innovation and the development of new works that challenge and inspire audiences with powerful and transformative performances and collaborations; and to integrate the arts into the life blood of the community.


Our History

The Institute for the Development of Education in the Arts

IDEA's beginnings trace back to the mid 90's when IDEA President and CEO, Cynthia Primas worked together with other Camden officials to establish a school of the arts in the City of Camden.  Recognizing the power and influence of the arts, Cynthia founded IDEA to further the reach on how youth and caring teaching-artists could work together and achieve results above or outside the traditional educational model.  This was not, by any means, a referendum on education, just a different approach.

Since the first major contract with the Camden City School District in 1996 that established IDEA's in-school program, "Stand Up For the Arts", IDEA has worked with youth and artists in the Delaware Valley to create additional programs - all designed to use the Arts as a means for youth to find their voice, offer tools to address personal issues, and give rise to their creative spirit.

Over 25 years, IDEA has imbedded itself in the Camden community and has established a winning track record of engaging youth and artist, which has resulted in Subaru Corporation of America awarding IDEA a grant to establish the "Subaru Media Lab" that will be housed at the new location.  They recognize IDEA as a "Premier" arts organization and saw the need to help further the mission of the arts within the community.

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere!" 

 - Albert Einstein

Join us!

Your support keeps our doors open and the promise of ideal programming that engages our youth.  Be part of the movement!

Board of Directors


Anthony Calabrese

IT Consultant -Board Member-Rowan University Foundation

Maurice Moore

Ex-Officio Board Member

Capacity Development Associates LLC

Portia Sperr

Founder / Please Touch Museum

Dr. Gloria Stone Mitchell

Professor Cheney University

Denise Spaulding

Behavioral Therapist - YAP Program

Montrea Arndt Verlander

Jefferson Hospital Accounting


Executive Director

Cynthia Primas

My dream of creating an Arts organization in Camden, New Jersey became a reality in 1995 when I founded the Institute for the Development of Education in the Arts (IDEA). Since then, I have witnessed drastic changes related to the Arts, including school budget cuts that led to the scaling down and/or elimination of Arts education programs; declining audiences, technology driven competition for the attention of youth, have all adversely affected youth participation in the Arts.

I’ve had many sleepless nights wondering how IDEA could successfully fulfill our artistic mission in the aforementioned environment. Without question, these are difficult times, but never has it been a more opportune time for community Arts organizations such as IDEA to open a new center. 

We have been fortunate to collaborate with other Art and community organizations in Camden, and the resulting relationships will allow us to expand our customer base, develop new sources of funding, and reduce costs without compromising our mission or the quality of our programming. I only wish I had this opportunity 23 years ago!

It is a new dynamic for our organization, and it is a central part of building a sustainable Art community. We are leveraging our limited resources by allying ourselves with other Art groups, community groups, and businesses. Our shared resources will create the synergy needed to ensure that all organizations have the capacity to fulfil their own unique missions. 

We are also keenly aware of the importance of the Arts to the creative economy, but as a community Arts organization, it is only relevant if we include those who have been left behind. Therefore, we are training Camden area youth in 21st century skills for Careers in the Arts and cultivating a new generation of creative content providers, as well as younger, potential audiences for the Arts.

We also hope to cultivate the community’s understanding of the intrinsic and fundamental value of the Arts, specifically reminding the community that the Arts positively affects how we think and feel, as well as helping  us connect to our humanity. 

Having a creative environment like the IDEA Performing Arts Center, meeting up with old friends and making new ones, exploring and displaying our unique talents, and creating a sense of community, might be exactly what we need during these difficult times. 

We hope you will make the IDEA Center for The Arts your creative place to be. 

Cynthia Primas, M.Ed


(IDEA) Institute for the Development of Education in the Arts 

IDEA Center for The Arts


"Cynthia Primas Designs 'Creative Oasis' For Students With IDEA"

The Atlantic City, NJ paper published an article about Cynthia and IDEA. Click on the link below to see the article.