Together North Jersey is a $10 million planning initiative, supported in half by HUD (Housing & Urban Development), and currently underway in the 13 county northern region of NJ. The outcome of this plan will be a more sustainable future for the region that invests in existing communities where housing, jobs, education, cultural and recreational opportunities are made more accessible to most residents without having to drive to them.
Two keywords, cultural and investment, are of keen interest to the ArtPride NJ Foundation as it strives to meet goals set forth in ArtsPlan NJ. All too often the arts are absent from the planning tables that provide funding for research, model programs and state and private investment in them. We recognize that the arts are key to creating sustainable communities and feel it is critical for them to have equal access to these investment opportunities. As Director of Community Engagement for the ArtPride NJ Foundation, Karen Pinzolo is involved with planning efforts that ensure art projects will be considered as local demonstration projects. In the next few months planning will focus on access and equity, primarily with regard to housing. With data available through the NJ Arts Education Census Project, access to arts education may be now be considered and mapped along with other access and equity concerns. Plan Smart NJ, one of the steering committee members for this effort, is also interested in mapping the 800+ grant recipients of NJ State Council on the Arts funding as another way to demonstrate access, in this case to arts and cultural opportunities. While mapping is a start, it doesn't come close to understanding the full issue of arts access. Measuring cultural participation is not limited to knowing where non-profit arts groups exist.
A more comprehensive overview includes a better understanding of where artists live and work and where art making happens in communities throughout New Jersey--in libraries, YMCA's, health facilities, faith-based programs, community centers and other unique places that emerge on a daily basis. We've reached out to other HUD recipients around the country to better understand how access and equity in the arts are measured, and welcome your ideas on how we can better measure the vital role the arts are playing in communities throughout our state. Please visit EngageNorthJersey.com to offer your voice and get info on upcoming public input sessions. While we speak for the New Jersey arts community, we need your support of this vital effort to "keep a seat at the table."