NJ Artists “Front and Center-Leading the Way”

Barnegat Lighthouse
Barnegat Lighthouse

Former National Endowment for the Arts Chair Rocco Landesmann is widely reputed for having fostered Creative Placemaking in the United States.  This community and economic planning approach had been practiced in Europe and Canada for years previous and Chairman Landesmann recognized its success in creating vibrant, re-vitalized, sustainable communities through intentional integration of arts and culture.  Creative Placemaking remains a cornerstone in the administration of the NEA’s current chair, Jane Chu.

Earlier this year, Jason Schupbach, NEA’s Director of Design, penned an article about the “Next 50 years of Creative Placemaking” (well worth a complete read).  In this post, Director Schupbach said that it is important “to find ways to have art-based community development practices embedded within non-arts sectors, and help the arts sector better understand community development.”

He goes on to state: “We know very few city-planning programs that teach arts-based strategies to students in the same way that they teach students the basics of transit, economic development, and real estate.  You could say the same for artists and arts managers–how many were taught anything about community organizing and engagement and/or urban and rural planning basics in school?”

Last Fall, the Center for Creative Placemaking convened a series of Think Tank sessions with NJ professional artists to explore this very idea.  We were fortunate to have the enthusiastic input of a diverse group of really smart-thinking artists from around our state:

Gianfranco Archimeded, Photographer and Director of Historic Preservation and cultural resource management for the City of Paterson

Nai-ni Chen, Founder/Director/Choreographer, Naini Chen Dance Company—Ft. Lee,

Susan Pelligrini, Video Artist—Producer/Director, Synergy Productions–Asbury Park

Maxine Roach, Grammy Award Winning Jazz Musician and violist, Current Broadway Orchestra contractor—Bloomfield

Olivia Robbins, Recent Architecture Major graduate from Howard University. Theatrical set designer and Americorps “Artist Liaison” for Valley Arts in Orange.

Elizabeth Sowell-Zak, Award winning Painter, Speaker, Artist Organizer—Long Branch

Larry Tobias, Theatre Artist Actor, Musician, Composer, Director, Writer, Producer—Montclair

Our ultimate goal was to make a case for professional artists as Creative Placemakers and to explore the training needed to qualify these individuals. We were pleased to see that we had been a bit “ahead of the curve” by the time Director Shupbach’s article appeared.

The purpose of the “Creative Placemaker Artists Forum” is to open our “think tank” conversations to a wider group of NJ artists.  We hope you will be able to join us on the evening of April 13th, from 6-9 PM at NJIT as we intend for our NJ artists to continue to be out in front in this professional development planning.

Creative Placemaker Artists Forum

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