This year was marked by creative and ambitious arts organizations, events and happenings.
Here is some insight into five trends that rise above the rest (to this blogger) and display the explosive energy of New Jersey’s lively arts scene, plus a quick look at some upcoming anniversaries.
Crowdfunding – While everyone was videotaping pouring ice buckets over their heads and witnessing the rise in social awareness for ALS and the extraordinary viral funding to assist research efforts, the arts in New Jersey did their share of crowdsourced fundraising.
A very quick look at higher-profile requests that came across my personal dashboard showed over $88,000 shared by nine projects seeking $118,000 in financial support (nearly 75 percent of that goal). Of those nine projects, five exceeded goal (four of the five were featured on Kickstarter). Through indiegogo, one of five exceeded goal with the total raised about 48 percent of a cumulative $70,500 goal. Indiegogo projects tended to have higher fundraising goals.
Projects ranged from ArtPride’s successful FOOD WATER AIR ART awareness campaign that produced original art prints, T-shirts and posters to Type Rider II: The Tandem Poetry Tour taking poets on their bikes to establish Little Free Libraries, to Gallery Aferro’s effort to increase space in Newark, to Monmouth Arts new storefront space in Red Bank, and public art efforts like City Without Walls’ Yarn City Project and Savage Habbit’s Jersey City mural project.
While no New Jersey specific data is available on this year’s recent Giving Tuesday on December 2, it appears that in its third year Giving Tuesday is, at the very least, providing focus to the general public for a day of giving to charities of all types including the arts.
STEAM or STEAM+A – STEAM is rising. Literally. Everywhere I go I keep hearing about the heightened perception of distinct and beneficial relationships between science, technology, engineering arts and math.
A recent article in the New York Times about a surgeon/painter is an excellent example, along with the NJ Manufacturer’s Insurance recent donation to Friends of the New Jersey State Museum to support ongoing renovations of its Natural History Hall. The Natural History Hall will feature the Museum’s world-class collections and programs to increase literacy in science, technology, engineering, math and art (STEM+A) to foster creativity and inspire future generations. Diverse ethnic communities are increasingly viewing STEAM efforts as gateways to provoke stronger interest in math, engineering and science and the partnerships continue to grow along with awareness of the Congressional STEAM Caucus.
Artivists and Artrepreneurs – What are these new “A” words, you ask? Artivists (and craftivists) take their civic responsibility seriously from yarnbombing and other forms of public art to art that reflects and continues the recent dialogue surrounding incidents in Ferguson and Manhattan related to race and civil rights.
The Urban Dictionary defines artrepreneurs as “One who owns a business specifically within the arts and uses several avenues within said business to give back to the community and 2.) Someone who is an artist (Actor, Dancer, etc), as well as a business owner. Artrepreneurs devise creative partnerships that extend outside of traditional philanthropy (see above crowdsourcing) from “angel investors” who may take a long term interest in their project or business.
As traditional funding sources remain limited and creatives are less willing to navigate philanthropic deep waters, expect this trend to continue and hopefully shed light on new investment models for the arts.
New sources for reliable arts news – While traditional print journalism continues to downsize, it is clear the arts are struggling to maintain any significant presence. In New Jersey the situation is more acute since the Garden State has always jockeyed for a major media position in print, on radio and TV between New York and Philadelphia. The evolution of the citizen journalist will continue but whether journalistic standards survive remains an unanswered question just recently played out on HBO’s flawed The Newsroom miniseries.
In the meantime, writers and editors are constructing new online outlets for New Jersey arts news like njarts.net, New Jersey Stage, New Jersey Arts News, NJTV’s venerable State of the Arts and newsreporting by Maddie Orton, and Discover Jersey Arts weekly Culture Vultures features and Jersey Arts podcasts. Arts organizations have also ramped up efforts to develop their own individualized web content.
Time will tell where print aficionados will find a home for solid editorial arts news and where arts groups will find the best bang for limited advertising bucks.
Arts & Health – Aging baby boomers, including yours truly, are relieved to see that arts in health care giving and health care settings are on the rise and that physicians continue to see how the arts make them more observant and precise (see surgeon/painter article above).
From long term care providers in the vanguard like the Springpoint Senior Living Foundation to the Arts in Healing efforts at hospitals like Capital Health, AtlantiCare Healing Arts, Princeton Healthcare System Foundation and Atlantic Health Systems’ partnership with Montclair State University, the perception of the value of the arts to healing is growing exponentially. ArtPride NJ is proud to work with the Alliance for Arts & Health NJ as they strive to connect health care providers to the arts, share best practices and provide networking opportunities to advance all related fields.
So what’s on the horizon? Speaking of aging, there are several notable anniversaries coming up next year in New Jersey arts. The National Endowment for the Arts and the NJ State Council on the Arts turn 50, ArtPride New Jersey turns 30, and the NJ Cultural Trust turns 15, all birthed in response to a need for public support of the arts or to protect government funding that helps keep the arts affordable and available to all.
Stay tuned for the celebrations and happy 2015!
Ann Marie Miller, who has been ArtPride’s Executive Director since 1995, was recently named the art advocacy organization’s new Director of Public Policy. Miller is a regular contributor of the Dodge Blog.