In 2012, Broadway actors Lucas Caleb Rooney and Bryce Pinkham founded Zara Aina in an effort to create a cultural exchange, or “sharing of life” between impoverished Malagasy communities and American actors.
In 2015, during our third residency in four years, we worked tirelessly to expand our Youth Company to include 45 at-risk middle school students, as well as hire a paid staff of five, including an operations manager, two trained social workers who interact directly with our children’s families and schools, a dance instructor and an experienced English teacher. In 2015, we also implemented a new curriculum and weekly schedule, allowing our Youth company to meet six times per week for storytelling performance rehearsals, English classes and creative arts programming.
We have embarked on a four-phase project that includes training Malagasy artists from every region of the
country in our pedagogy. We also sent our American and Malagasy facilitators to different regions to create performances that help spread the word
about the importance of vaccination and to empower the Malagasy people to combat the crisis themselves: to become personal sellers, ambassadors and mobilizers for their communities.
Various American Zara Aina teaching artists have begun to bring our pedagogy to New York-based organizations
such as the Win Homeless Shelter, the Hunts Point Alliance for Children, The Shakespeare Society, and Rhinebeck Middle School. ZA U.S.A has expanded with annual trips to Wilcox County, AL to work with nonprofit, Bama Kids.
In 2017, Zara Aina bought land in Madagascar---right in our student's neighborhood.
In 2022, after a global pandemic, we finally broke ground on building our permanent Center. 2023 rolled around and we can now shout from the roof tops that our Zara Aina Center in Antananarivo is complete!
We look to many years of sustainable arts programming, academic tutoring, mentorship, aid against hunger, and "Sharing Life" in Madagascar and beyond.