Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Alternative Spring Break: NYC Arts and Culture

Applications for Alternative Spring Break are now open! Apply to participate in Alternative Spring Break. 

The ASB: NYC Culture & Arts program for 2022 aims to provide undergraduate students in CC, SEAS, GS and BC with an immersive, pre-professional opportunity to work with real-world artists on an intimate, 5-day workshop of a new musical. This will be an exciting and interactive program which allows students to connect both with each other and with the professional performing arts community of NYC. ASB 2022 will give students the opportunity to workshop a new piece of musical theatre alongside professional NYC-based theatremakers, giving student participants the opportunity to see how theatrical pieces can grow and change on the ground floor and in the early stages. ASB 2022 will take place between March 13-18 (Spring Break)*.  Throughout the week students will learn songs, block scenes, and work side-by-side with professional artists, culminating in a recorded performance. Students will also have the opportunity to attend 1-2 performances of new musicals in NYC, followed by talkbacks/debriefs with the artists and backstage tours (subject to availability). This will give students the opportunity to reflect on their workshop experience by experiencing fully realized productions, and discussing the process by which a workshop grows into a performance on or off Broadway. 

Read more about the show/workshop: Artist Bios and Show Description.pdfArtist Bios and Show Description.pdf

*Dates and times for activities and events are still being solidified. All participants are expected to participate in all ASB activities in their entirety; this is an immersive program and participants should NOT participate in other meetings/events/plans during this period. The program is subject to cancellation or may become virtual at any time due to COVID restrictions.

Program Goals

  • Students become familiar and connected to the world of New York City theatre, musical composition, and playwrighting through connections with NYC-based artists and exposure to shows.
  • Provide an opportunity to perform on campus, including recorded performances of songs and scenes from a new musical which students can use for their own artistic endeavors (including professional performance reels, websites, and audition submissions).
  • Foster a deeper understanding and knowledge of the origins and process of creating a new musical from multiple perspectives (directing, acting, producing, and more).
  • Develop knowledge and transferable skills that can be applied to their academic and potential professional careers
  • Gain an understanding of career paths & opportunities within the performing arts
  • Connect students with organizations that pertain to the performance and arts realms
  • Expose students to workshops, discussions, entertainment, performances, and arts-related networks


Student Participant Opportunities

  • Student Performer (6-12 students) - sing, act, and perform in a new musical. Learn vocal and acting technique, breath and tone work, and the process of a new musical workshop from the actor's perspective. Receive group and one-on-one coaching from a professional actor/director and composer/musical director. Perform in the culminating performance and receive professional recordings for student and professional use.
  • Assistant Composer/Music Director (1-2) - work alongside professional composers and music directors to learn the ins and outs of how a new musical is created. Work one-on-one with the composers and musical directors to gain skills in composition and vocal coaching. Depending on interest/skill level, may have the opportunity to teach or accompany performers in learning new musical pieces.
  • Assistant Director (1-2) - work alongside a professional director to learn the ins and outs of theatrical directing. Depending on interest/skill level, may have the opportunity to block or direct a number of scenes for the culminating performance, receiving support and feedback from the director.
  • Assistant Writer (1) - be "on the ground" representative for our writer. Meet with the writer virtually to learn more about the process of writing and re-writing a new musical. Depending on interest/skill level, may have the opportunity to give notes or feedback, or assist in minor script revision.
  • Student Designer (1) - work alongside professional director and Lerner technical staff to create and refine design elements for the show including (but not limited to) lighting design for the final performance. Depending on interest/skill level, may also work on costume, sound, and props.



  • 12-15 student participants who serve as performers in the workshop or learning assistants for our professional artists, based on interest and applications
  • 5 days, with rehearsal each day in the Lerner Black Box
  • 1-2 theater outings to see new musical works, followed by talkbacks and debriefs with artists
  • Daily workshops, exercises, and rehearsals led by professional artists
  • End of the day debriefs, facilitated dialogue, and reflection
  • Showcase (live and/or recorded) at the closing of the week of a new musical workshopped by the students in concert with the artists, which will be made available for student use


Dates and Eligibility

  • Spring Break 2020: Monday, March 16-Friday March 20*
  • The ASB program application is open to any undergraduate student in Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Barnard College and General Studies in good academic and judicial standing. The program is limited to 15 students and is ideal for those with a passion/interest/curiosity for theatre and the performing arts.
  • Students applying for the program and/or receiving funding must be in good academic and judicial standing.


Need for Accommodations

  • If you are a student that is registered with Disability Services, are differently abled or in need of special accommodations to participate in ASB, please indicate so on your application. If you are selected for the program, a member from the ASB team will reach out to discuss and coordinate accommodations and support. If you find you need accommodations and did not indicate so on the application, please email for more information. 


Meals and Student Fee/Deposit

  • ASB provides three meals per day during the program. Students will be provided with swipes to the dining hall.

  • Students selected for the program are required to pay a $15 deposit to participate in ASB, which will be returned on the first day of the program to those who participate. The payment must be turned in by Tuesday, February 1, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. to 515A Lerner to guarantee participation. More details will be given to selected applicants. If paying the student deposit proves difficult, limited funding to subsidize cost is available for eligible students. 

    • Columbia College and Columbia Engineering Funding Information 
      Limited funding is available through the Alternative Spring Break Program for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students and can cover up to $15; however, it is not guaranteed. This funding was established to help alleviate significant financial need for those who otherwise may not be able to participate in the program. To be considered for funding you must fill out the ASB application below. There is a funding section specifically for Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students included. For questions, please email

    • General Studies Funding Information 
      Funding for General Studies students can be found via the GS Student Life Allocation Board Funding Application. For questions, please email

    • Barnard College Funding Information
      Funding for Barnard College students can be found via the Barnard Student Life Leadership Development Grant (SLDG). For questions, please email




Student Engagement


515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: 212-854-3612

Fax: 212-854-6972

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.