How to Renew and Recharge This Summer

June 11, 2012

This week is chock full of conferences and convenings designed to renew and recharge. Early June is a great time to stimulate those brain synapses and there’s still time to reflect on new ideas throughout the summer during whatever down time busy people schedule as vacation.

I just returned from the annual Americans for the Arts (AFTA) Conference entitled “The New Normal” that offered a multitude of examples of how non-profit arts organizations throughout the nation are adapting to a still-changing climate that requires creativity, flexibility and the willingness to embrace change. As part of AFTA’s State Arts Advocacy Network (SAAN), the discussion centered around building strategic partnerships and new business models, and creating opportunities to involve partners in the development of broad-based policies that embrace the arts. Outreach efforts continue in the areas of education, and community and economic development. Newer areas of engagement include healthcare, creativity and innovation, and veterans’ affairs.

I also had the opportunity to hear new perspectives on AFTA’s pARTnership movement that seeks to strengthen business alliances, an effort that the ArtPride NJ Foundation is developing here in our State. The conference was in San Antonio, a city packed to the (cowboy hat) brim with arts, history and great pride in the variety of cultures that make up the Lone Star State.


In just two days the Thrive! Arts conference convenes at the Friends Center of Princeton University. The Discover Jersey Arts Jersey Arts Marketers (JAM) network spearheaded this opportunity for arts professionals to more closely examine the many ways arts advocacy, marketing and development work together to help build and sustain audiences and arts participants throughout the State. Our strategic partners, the NJ State Council on the Arts, the NJ Theatre Alliance, South Jersey Cultural Alliance, the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and Westminster Choir College at Rider University have joined together to provide about 150 arts professionals and trustees with the expertise of big thinkers and creative practioners who will share new ideas and practices. For more information on speakers and the day’s agenda, visit the Jersey Arts website.

Connecting Across the Life Span

Moving on to Thursday, the Alliance for Arts & Health NJ (AAHNJ) will convene at Montclair State University for their second annual conference entitled “Connecting Across the Life Span.”  This conference will bring health care providers and arts professionals together to more carefully integrate services. There is increasing recognition of the value the arts bring to healing, from assisting those who are chronically and terminally ill, to providing healing environments, reducing stress during medical procedures and ultimately reducing health care costs. An outgrowth of Arts Plan NJ, AAHNJ seeks to strengthen these valuable partnerships and provide ways to offer increased access to services for those in need.

From Schoolyard Bullying and Culture Wars to a Polarized Democracy: What Role Can Philanthropy Play in Restoring Civility to our Society?

Finally, the Council of NJ Grantmakers (CNJG) will host its annual colloquium on Friday at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick entitled “From Schoolyard Bullying and Culture Wars to a Polarized Democracy: What Role Can Philanthropy Play in Restoring Civility to our Society?” Professor Anthony Appiah discusses his most recent book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen. He and other distinguished speakers will discuss how the loss of civility in our society impacts the work we do, what this means for the social sector, and what role foundations and nonprofits can play in addressing this sickness.

My intention is to immerse myself in the ideas brought forth from discussions at all of these events to remind myself of how connected and vital the arts are to all other areas of life. I invite you to join me!

Ann Marie Miller is the Executive Director of ArtPride, the premier arts advocacy organization in New Jersey, and a regular contributor to the Dodge blog