Alicia Keys & Roc Nation Donate $60K to Performing Arts School


March 19, 2024

She’s giving back to the school that laid a foundation for her!

In the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, the Professional Performing Arts School (PPAS) stands as a place of creativity and talent, nurturing stars like Alicia Keys. Yet, when news broke of the abrupt cancellation of the drama program, the PPAS community rallied with determination to rescue their beloved thespian program.

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According to W42ST, in just three days, the PPAS community–led by a daring 7th grader–raised over $46,000 through a GoFundMe campaign, demonstrating the community’s commitment to preserving the acclaimed drama department. The S-O-S did not go unnoticed, as Roc Nation, the record label representing hometown hero and PPAS alumna Alicia Keys, pledged $60,000 towards sustaining the program until a permanent solution could be secured.

At the heart of this initiative lies Waterwell, an artistic collective co-founded by Arian Moayed, known for managing PPAS’s rigorous conservatory-style training program. The sudden decision to terminate Waterwell’s involvement blindsided the community, prompting outrage and confusion among parents and students. Amidst conflicting narratives regarding budget cuts and program changes, the focus remains firmly on the students who stand to lose the most. “Pulling the rug from under them this late in the year after all their hard work this past year is unfair and unnecessary,” Waterwell shared in a statement, according to W42ST.

The update that the drama department at PPAS, located on W48th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue, may remain operational until the end of the school year brings relief to parents, students, and alumni alike. Hell’s Kitchen parent Chrissy Collins, whose daughter Emma is a drama major at PPAS, expressed her gratitude for the Roc Nation donation, describing it as “amazing news.” Emma, who was deeply saddened by the news of the department’s financial struggles, can now find solace in the possibility of its continuation.


Despite the uncertain future of the Waterwell program at PPAS, students such as Emma and Valerie remain hopeful that the recent momentum will secure ongoing access to a top-tier theatrical education for themselves and future generations. Reflecting on their experience at PPAS, they shared, “Being at PPAS has made us realize one thing,” they said. “It is worth pursuing your dreams, even if there are obstacles in your way.”

Cover photo: Alicia Keys & Roc Nation Donate $60K to Performing Arts School / Credit: Matt York/AP

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