Voices from the Field

ArtPride regularly invites guest writers to share new perspectives on issues related to the arts community and the many ways the creative industries impact New Jersey.


Interview with Maysoon Zayid, Comedian, Actress and Disability Advocate

The Thrive Arts Conference, presented by ArtPride New Jersey and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, is a biennial professional development convening for arts administrators throughout New Jersey. At Thrive, experts share ways to best serve and promote the amazing work of arts organizations and how to adapt to daily challenges including the pandemic. The event took place at the Princeton...

Catch Basin Murals a Hit for Earth Day in Perth Amboy

Perth Amboy Artworks recently produced five Catch Basin Murals for Earth Day. I sent out an email promoting our project and got a response from Sen. James Kennedy saying “very cool.” That is a real compliment, coming from a former mayor and leader of the NJ Creative Placemaking movement, who used arts to drive the successful revitalization of Rahway. Catch basin mural projects have been used...

Volunteer Shortage Stretches Arts Organizations

If you have enjoyed a cultural experience in New Jersey, chances are volunteers helped to make it happen. Across the country, however, volunteerism is down. According to a December 2021 Gallup Poll of 811 adults, the percentage who reported time spent volunteering fell to 56 percent, continuing a downward trend from 65 percent in 2013 to 64 percent in 2017. From ushers to docents to studio...

“My Hometown” – Arts, History, Tourism, Economic Development, and More, with Help from The Boss

"Son, take a good look around. This is your hometown…" (My Hometown , Bruce Springsteen, 1984) Who knew that almost 40 years after The Boss released this iconic song, arts, history, tourism, economic development, and community revitalization would come together under those words to give the borough of Freehold dynamic new meaning? On March 8, I attended the news conference at the Freehold Fire...

A Gift of Community

More than 13 years ago, I started as the part-time director for this small-but-mighty program at Third Westminster Presbyterian Church at 780 Salem Avenue in Elizabeth called the Institute of Music for Children. As the arts were being cut in schools, the Institute was started by the church in 1995 to help provide arts education to their neighborhood youth, where children could learn and grow...

Community Development & the Arts: Perfect Together!

Join the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey on October 15 for a workshop on connecting community development, creative placemaking, and more! Through the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, community art has become a beacon of light in uncertain times. New Jersey’s local painters, sculptors, community gardeners, musicians, poets, dancers, and all other artists have proven...

Beyond the Boundaries: Arts Education through a Pandemic

“We always have a choice of how we respond to the crisis. That’s what arts does: it gives students a voice.” Since the onset of the pandemic and throughout the past year, the landscape of arts education has changed dramatically. At schools throughout the state of New Jersey, students were forced to communicate and create from home, or through major restrictions. However, in spite of this blow,...

Development + Work Experience + Stipend = Internship  

I was matched with ArtPride New Jersey after being selected to participate in the Diversity in Arts Leadership program by Americans for the Arts. This year, DIAL matched undergraduate students whose backgrounds are underrepresented in the arts to select arts organizations in New Jersey, New York City, and Nashville. I will be using my experience with DIAL as a prerequisite when applying for future...

The Camden Arts Scene is Growing

Visual ethnographer Michael P. Smith often described New Orleans as a “cultural wetland." 1 It is from this framework that I similarly consider Waterfront South, the Camden neighborhood where my organization Camden FireWorks is situated. Often non-residents describe Camden using deficit-based descriptors like “underserved,” “disenfranchised,” or “poor.” Although Waterfront South people implicitly...

Get Involved in the Word, Plant a Seed, and Watch It Grow

Words are important. Words are all around us and with you right now as you read this. Words, to me, are among the most beautiful gifts that I have ever gotten from or given to anyone. I believe this so strongly that I’ve dedicated myself to ensuring that words play an important part in the lives of others. I currently serve as my hometown’s Poet Laureate. As the first ever poet laureate of...