“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...

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...

In Honor of Women's History Month

Mid-October 2020, during the last phase of a difficult political time in general, Susanna Baker, Executive Director of Studio Montclair , reached out and asked me if I would be interested in proposing a show honoring Women’s History Month. I started with two words: women with a ‘y’ and werq. I looked them up online. From the Urban Dictionary: Womyn This is a term used by those who feel that having...

Passing the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund

This past November 3, Jersey City voted to create an Arts and Culture Trust Fund, becoming the first municipality in New Jersey to create a dedicated tax to support the arts. The trust will create funding sources for arts organizations in the city, and will support arts organizations and artists that benefit the culture, well-being, and economy of Jersey City, as well as provide increased...

Your Three-Step, Uncomplicated Formula For a More Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Workplace

(Or, How I Rapidly Implemented DEI at a Predominately White Institution In My Role as Its First Leader of Color) TRUTH BOMB: making your company DEI-friendly is NOT as hard as everyone is making it out to be. You see, most organizations think they need to pull out all the stops for DEI. But the truth is, it's so much simpler than that. Sure, hiring outside help can benefit, but the REAL work...

ArtPride New Jersey Offers Testimony at NJ Open Public Budget Hearings

Each year, the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services offers the public an opportunity to bring budget concerns to the Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee. ArtPride trustee Jeremy Johnson testified before the Assembly Committee, and ArtPride staff member Ann Marie Miller testified before both committees. This was an opportunity to remind elected...

The HeART of Downtown Renaissance

What happens when you get five business leaders in a room filled with hungry learners who want to know the secrets to making their downtowns come alive? This was the scene at the recent New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference where ArtPride and the Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey collaborated to showcase success stories in progress in Hackensack, Atlantic City, Trenton...

New Jersey Celebrates National Arts in Education Week

It’s back to school time and that means this week is National Arts in Education Week. It is such a critical time to show your support for arts education in New Jersey. Arts education creates not only artists but well-rounded humans that thrive in creative workplace environments. Now, if you aren’t familiar with this national celebration, here is a little background provided by our friends at...

Never Stop Asking Questions

Five years ago, I put a personal and institutional moratorium on making theatre. coLAB Arts had a massive question that had been hanging in the air for the five years since the organization first started: Why do we exist? Why does there need to be another loosely held together group of emerging interdisciplinary artists in New Jersey making work for themselves? And why New Brunswick? We had...

Action Alerts

ACT NOW – Contact NJ legislators re continued pandemic relief for arts & culture

S2800/A4233 was recently introduced to support New Jersey’s creative industries with $70 million of federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds still available to the State of New Jersey.

Cultural organizations were among the very first to close and the last to reopen when pandemic restrictions eased. Most continue to struggle financially with decreased revenue as audiences have not yet returned to pre-pandemic capacity levels. Earlier federal funding has long since expired.

Funds will provide grants to nonprofit and for-profit arts and cultural organizations through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) to recoup lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and help...
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Support the Creative Economy Bills
The U.S. Congress is currently considering seven bills that will support the creative industries in recovery. Many offer ways for federal agencies to expand services and opportunities to benefit individual artists and cultural organizations.

Together, these bills map a new, more equitable and impactful policy landscape for creative businesses and workers and, if passed, would improve the lives of all Americans by expanding opportunity for creative workers and boosting the U.S. economy.

Please ask your member of Congress to cosponsor any or all of these bills.
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