April is National Poetry Month and it ended last night with the National Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington, DC. This year Kavita Oza of the Peddie School in Hightstown worked her way from regional and state competitions to be one of nine finalists competing in DC. The finalists come from a field of 375,000 students from more than 2,000 schools nationwide! We are so proud of Kavita from The Peddie School in Hightstown, who recited Ego by Denise Duhamel and The Sun Rising by John Donne. New Jersey’s Poetry Out Loud program is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, Playwrights Theatre of NJ, The Lewis Center of the Arts at Princeton University, and the ArtPride NJ Foundation.
New Jersey Poetry Out Loud finalist Kavita in center
May brings Arts Day on Thursday the 2nd at The War Memorial in Trenton, and this year is testimony to arts partnerships. Sustainable Jersey will start off the day with training for municipalities seeking credits toward certification, and participants will learn how to connect creative assets to economic and community development planning to shape more sustainable communities.
ArtPride will announce elected trustees and officers at an annual membership meeting followed by a performance from the Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir. Creative New Jersey will host an open space convening where participants will answer this challenging question, “How can the arts in New jersey take new and creative approaches to strengthen its position within the fabric of community life?”
Refreshment and celebration follow all the thinking at a Movers & Shakers social where ArtPride will honor 2013 Distinguished Arts Advocates. This year Susan K. Schear of Artisin, LLC will receive the award for her extraordinary efforts following Superstorm Sandy. Susan helped coordinate disaster relief efforts for New Jersey’s arts and history communities with special counseling provided to artists who suffered damage and loss due to the storm. The Distinguished Arts Advocate Award will also be presented to nationally renowned painter Mel Leipzig of Trenton. Mel is retiring from teaching at Mercer County Community College and now devoting all of his time to painting. ArtPride remembers Mel as part of NJ’s National Arts Advocacy Day delegation bringing paintings in his van to grace the walls of congressional offices!
Finally, the day ends with the joyous celebration of student achievement and adult leadership in the 2013 Governor’s Awards in Arts Education. The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership coordinates the annual awards in partnership with the NJ Dept. of Education, the NJ State Council on the Arts and the ArtPride NJ Foundation. Student performances offer glimpses into the amazing talent that is present in schools throughout the state and friends and families gather for this annual rite of spring.
The arts are certainly blooming and this is a time to be grateful for all the Garden State has to offer. We hope you will join us at Arts Day to be part of the brain trust thinking about ways to sustain the arts through all seasons in communities all over New Jersey!
Images courtesy of ArtPride
Ann Marie Miller is the Executive Director of ArtPride, the premier arts advocacy organization in New Jersey, and a regular contributor to the Dodge blog.