Visual Arts Center of New Jersey


68 Elm Street
Summit, NJ 07901
County: Union


Ms. Melanie Cohn

Grant Amount


Program Area



Grant Details

For general operating support of contemporary art exhibitions and arts enrichment programs of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.

Organization Background

The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey accomplishes its mission of "bringing art and people together" by providing broad access to the visual arts. It has grown from a small non-profit into a 23,000 square foot facility in Summit, NJ. Features include 5 art galleries, 10 studio classrooms and a sculpture garden. In 2014 VACNJ was voted "Favorite Place to Take an Adult Arts Class" and continued to receive designation as a "major impact" organization and awarded a "citation of excellence" from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. It is also accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is ADA compliant.

The organization presents contemporary art exhibitions featuring artists from New Jersey and far beyond. The Studio School offers 4 semesters of classes on a wide range of visual media to approximately 4,000 registrants annually. Drawing on exhibitions VACNJ provides Gallery Education Programs for adults and school-children. Additional programs covering a variety of art and humanities topics are offered each year. Partnerships with other non-profit organizations allow VACNJ to reach special needs audiences including adults and children with disabilities, seniors and underserved youth.

Cynthia McChesney serves as the organization's Interim Executive Director. She joined VACNJ this summer, from Rutgers University Foundation where she served as Director of Development. Prior, at Kean University, McChesney secured leadership gifts for the university's humanities programs, including a named art gallery. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Michigan.

Since 2003, curator Mary Birmingham has curated over 45 group and solo exhibitions of contemporary art. She holds degrees in Art History from Seton Hall University and Hunter College.

Vanessa Batista, Director of the Studio School has worked at the Art Center for 9 years. She has a B.A. in Art History from Kean University and an A.A. from Middlesex County College.

Cara Bramson, Director of Programs joined the Art Center staff in 2010. She holds an M.A. from the State University of New York's Cooperstown Graduate Program and a B.A. in American Studies from Rutgers University.

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