Performing Arts Workshops launches memorial fundraising campaign

NILES — An area nonprofit is seeking to honor the memory of an artist, while also creating an opportunity for students.

Performing Arts Workshops is seeking to raise $2,000 to further enrich the lives of their students by honoring the memory of a teaching artist. Lauren Widner was a PAW 2019 guest teaching artist, made possible through the Frederick S. Upton Foundation.

The ​Lauren Widner Memorial Scholarship Fund​ is being created to honor Widner’s memory by recognizing exceptional talent, awarded solely on merit, officials said. Students will have the opportunity to audition for various workshops in order to be eligible for a merit-based scholarship. Priority will be given to those interested in ​PAW Selects​, an advanced devised theatre workshop that challenges the creative innovation of teens.

Widner’s memory will live on as countless students can engage in rigorous performing arts education throughout our various workshops offered, officials said.

“This past spring Lauren passed away and it broke our hearts. She was a wonderfully talented collaborative artist who brought so much experience to our students and staff. The entire PAW family appreciates Lauren’s contributions to our organization and we will always hold her in our hearts,” said Executive Director August Garritano.

Widner leaves behind her parents, Mark and Cathy Widner of River Vale, New Jersey, and sister, Cheryl, and brother, Jeffrey, who both reside in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating Pascack Valley High School in 1996, Widner earned a bachelor of science degree in music education from Penn State University. As a music teacher for more than 15 years, Paw representatives said she enriched the lives of her students through song and theatre.

Widner eventually earned a master’s degree in music education from Boston University and a second master’s degree in theatre direction from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

Her passions led her to direct, compose, and perform music and theatre with some of Broadway’s finest. She was a published author of ​“Elle and Eleanor: Across the Pond​,” a children’s adventure book, and creator of the original musical, ​“Niagara​.”

To honor Widner’s memory PAW is seeking funds to support the Lauren Widner Memorial Scholarship Fund. To donate, mail checks, made payable to PAW Inc., to PO Box 138, Niles, MI 49120.

PAW is nonprofit organization that provides performing arts experiences to youth ages infant-12th grade in Niles. PAW offers summer workshops and performance opportunities, providing integrative arts education. Visit performingartsworkshops.org to learn more.

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