On May 11, thought leaders from within and outside New Jersey’s arts community gathered at Express Newark to discuss trends and conditions affecting New Jersey artists and the future of support for their work. The catalyst was the National Endowment for the Arts through their Creativity Connects program, which asked the group to examine the current and future ecosystem of support for artists with an eye toward alliances that can anchor value for creativity throughout the state.
The NJ State Council on the Arts and ArtPride New Jersey coordinated the roundtable with the help of Newark Arts and Express Newark. The discussion was held in the stunning and newly opened Express Newark, located in the iconic former Hahne’s department store.
Express Newark is an arts incubator conceived by Rutgers University/Newark faculty, staff and students, and community arts leaders, and is part of a bold plan to cultivate local artistic expression through artistic engagement and public scholarship. Express Newark is a home to Rutgers Newark video, photo, design and art classes as well as a partner to community arts organizations like the Newark Print Shop. This dynamic and collaborative newly redeveloped space brought the discussion to life as an example of what is possible made real.
The gathering intentionally included individual artists across disciplines, business leaders in banking and finance, housing and community development leaders, educational leaders, and connectors in the nonprofit arts arena. All brought their unique perspectives on the current support system for artists and what innovative partnerships both within and across sectors would work best in New Jersey. Some examples of creative new collaborations where artists are currently supported include:
Some examples of creative new collaborations where artists are currently supported include:
- Together North Jersey, where there is respect for artists at the planning table for creative live and work spaces
- Art galleries in hospitals as well as performing arts and healthcare facility partnerships, enhancing the quality of patient experience and care
- Art reflected in city growth, including in the Office of the Mayor, where global cultural sharing is part of economic development
Looking to the future, the following areas posed potential win/win alliances between the arts and other fields:
- Business: Funding businesses to include artists in development and redevelopment efforts or increased use of arts participation as a human resource perk for corporations
- Healthcare: Medical alliances that include artists helping to visualize complex scientific processes
- Diverse capitalization: Funding for arts from other entities viewed as investment priorities outside of the traditional “grant” model or microlending
The lively discussion often returned to the critical need for affordable artist live/work space with property owners who are flexible enough to allow the specific work requirements of different artists, i.e., the use of power tools and machinery.
On the opposite side of that equation, there is a need to equip artists with business tools and provide them with the ability to gain personal and professional financial stability.
The group of 25 thinkers were fully engaged in the four-hour discussion and generously donated their time and bright minds to a deep dive on a topic that often surfaces, but does not benefit from focused attention. Many expressed a desire to continue the conversation about new and increased ways to assure that New Jersey artists have an ongoing support network that is
Many expressed a desire to continue the conversation about new and increased ways to assure that New Jersey artists have an ongoing support network that is broad-based, inclusive, and responsive to changing needs and evolving technology.
Ann Marie Miller is the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at ArtPride New Jersey and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.