Community Spotlight: Jenny Romaine

Jenny Romaine. Photo by Marc Goldberg.

As we navigate these dire times, we have been lucky to have amazing friends to help meet our community’s needs. As part of our Community Spotlight series, we speak with artists, parents, staff, and many more who have helped us with our food pantry and wellness initiatives.

Jenny Romaine is a director, designer, performer, and puppeteer, and a founding member of Great Small Works artists’ collective.

How did you get involved with Abrons Arts Center?
Well, the Center and neighborhood playhouse are famous. I work in theater/puppet theater and also knew many people who grew up on the LES who were touched by Henry Street. They did Isadora Duncan dancing!

What has your involvement been over the years?
I first worked at Henry Street/Abrons on a youth project that was a hip hop retelling of the myth of the myth of Persephone, I believe. The theater collective I co-founded, Great Small Works, held puppet making workshops with folk in the art classes at the center. And coached the puppeteers in the youth theater project. The puppet making sessions in the general art classes were fantastic. I remember a 7 year old girl and an 80 plus year old woman having a serious discussion about the color palette they would chose for a puppet. I thought to myself “This is what heaven must be like!” I also did some work there with Chinese Theater Works. I also performed at Abrons as part of the exhibition featuring the LGBTQ TV series for kids, Sez Me. And, I see shows there!

Randy Luna and Jenny Romaine. Photo by Marc Goldberg

How are you participating currently in the Abrons community?
I am delivering food once a week to community members who can not leave their homes. 

What keeps you coming back?
Well, there is huge need. Also, the people behind the apartment doors are wonderful to meet. I love the neighborhood and the people. I have been rooted in the LES since 1980. I also love the people I work with. Each volunteer is another celebrity in their own field. 

Positive thoughts to give to the readers…
The pandemic is so stressful! Delivering food to people who need it feels good, and is a nice way to connect socially while physically distancing. We use all precautions. I admire the staff hugely. They prioritize taking care of people, so folk who during non-pandemic times are musicians, burlesque stars, tech wizards, teachers, therapists, and more are all throwing down for the most vulnerable in the neighborhood. To me they are a model of how an art center can function.

We are always seeking more volunteers to help meet the need in our community.
If you’re interested in volunteering, click here for more information.