What is Believe NYC? Artistic Director, Jacque Carnahan talks about how Believe NYC began

“Do what you love”. Steve Jobs has said it, Coco Chanel said it, Confucius said:

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I love to sing and dance. Performing in the theatre has always been what makes me feel most alive.

I followed my heart from California to New York City and I’ve lived there as a musical theatre performer for the last 12 years. Let me tell you, it can be tough. I’ve worked with some of the best in the business, and I’ve also not worked at all. I’ve lost more jobs than I’ve booked, and the rejection can take its toll. After the show that would have been my Broadway debut lost it’s funding and never saw a Broadway stage, I decided I needed a break from showbiz.

I spent time traveling, teaching, choreographing, and finally found my way back into my dancing shoes when I realized my life as a performer was not over yet. (Yes, at the ripe old age of 29, I decided it wasn’t quite time to retire) All I knew for certain was that I still loved to perform. Do what you love. Ok.

I decided to write a show for young artists about the pursuit of a career in the arts. They say to write what you know, and I knew about that. I called up a composer friend, Barbara Anselmi, and together, we spent 4 months writing my story. From the dance lessons, mean girls, boyfriends, first national tours, losing everything, and then finding it again. We didn’t sugar coat. We wrote it all.

Our first show was at the Triad Theatre in NYC for a group of 75 High School musical theatre students. I invited the owner of a student travel agency, Educational Travel Adventures, to see the show. I wanted to know if he would consider selling the show to his performing arts groups.

Within the first few minutes we got a laugh. Then, another laugh. I peaked at Barbara behind the piano and she smiled. We didn’t know the show was funny! We could feel the audience on the journey with us. After the show, we kept hearing the same sentence, “that was so inspiring”. “You are so inspiring”. “thank you for telling your story” “because I know what you went through to get where you are, I believe I can do it too”. WOW. I asked Michael from ETA what he thought. He loved the show! He said he would start adding it to his performance group itineraries!

4 years later, we have Believe NYC. Since that first performance we have expanded our programing to include workshops, scholarships and an entirely separate program for band and orchestra students featuring world-class musicians and music directors. This season, we began offering programing in Los Angeles and Chicago. Next June, we will produce a benefit concert for Autism Speaks at The Gershwin Theatre where 300 lucky students will get to perform on a Broadway stage with a star-studded cast. And not to mention, Barbara’s own show, It Shoulda Been You, opened on Broadway in April.

I guess retiring from the theatre wasn’t in the cards for me just yet. I’m going to keep doing what I love, and more importantly, I’m going to inspire other young artists to do the same.

Believe NYC is a three part event that includes a show, workshop and Q&A designed to inspire, entertain and educate performing arts students.

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Hi there! I'm an actress, singer, tap dancer, teacher trying to do as much as possible of those 4 things here in NYC. Also artistic director of educational organization, Believe NYC!

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