Voices from the Field Blog

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,...

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...

A New View—Camden

The City of Camden , New Jersey has received a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to clean up blighted areas around its transit corridors and to turn those spaces into showcases for public art. Camden was one of only ­five cities across the United States to receive a Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge grant for 2019-2020. The other cities are Anchorage, Alaska; Coral Springs...

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...

Creative Art as a Tool for Community Revitalization

What does your mind conjure when asked to visualize Trenton’s art scene? Public sculpture concentrated near the State House? Street-style art on abandoned buildings? While both examples can be found across the spectrum of art in Trenton, the reality is much more vibrant and diverse. Creative and performing arts have always played an important role in Trenton over the course of its history, but...

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...

Portrait of a Partnership: Municipalities & the Arts

The arts have brought of herd of painted oxen to the fields of Hopewell Valley, a mural to the wall of a city garden in New Brunswick, and Monet to Toms River -- actually, a very realistic sculpture of the artist. Throughout the Garden State, artists and the arts community have been welcomed by municipalities for their skills, the lessons they can share, and the beauty they bring to the streets,...

Top Ten Things Every Artist Needs to Know About Copyright and Trademark

If you are a writer, comedian, actor, painter, photographer, choreographer, sculptor or an artist of any type who creates work on a regular basis, you might feel like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” walking through a dense forest when you start to think about how you protect your intellectual property: “trademark, copyright and registration---oh, my!” Here are the Top 10 Things Every Artist Needs to...

Lessons Learned #AFTACon 2016

For nearly 60 years, Americans for the Arts has convened an annual convention for arts and community leaders to network and discuss strategies for building stronger towns, counties, and cities through the arts. As our professional field has grown, so has this gathering. This year's Annual Convention explored the role of the arts in creating and sustaining healthy, vibrant, equitable communities,...