The Creative Edge That Is NJ Arts

January 14, 2013

Creativity is relative.  It is innovation’s Siamese twin, the artist’s muse, and a commodity in the business world. In the non-profit arts world it is an essential component of management, marketing and fund development. While there are countless ways in which creativity is obvious in the arts and the object of chase by individual artists throughout time, we’ll stick to counting creativity in New Jersey’s non-profit arts community with a “ten best” list from the past year.  Note: ten is a cruel limit to the abundant and dynamic creative energy apparent in all corners of the Garden State.

  1. Two River Theatre Company’s creatively used social media to lead a virtual tour via the wildly popular Instagram app.  The company’s young Metro Scholars used the social media website to take photos from the front door to backstage and offered a “behind the scenes” tour to entice new audiences to their Red Bank location.
  2. Ten Hairy Legs came on the scene as the evolution of the Randy James Dance Company.  You get the immediate mental image and along with that a glimpse into the creator/choreographer’s humor through the creative title that also has an eye catching logo.
  3. Art All Day produced by Artworks in Trenton was born this fall by its wildly successful parent Art All Night. A true community arts event, Art All Day offered a glimpse into the gritty Trenton arts scene with studio tours and city-wide art exhibits in surprising locations.
  4. The Gandhi Garden (pictured above) in Trenton was pulled together with an open city block and the limitless creativity of The Sage Coalition, artists and community activists starving for transformation of a blighted neighborhood. Gardening with Gandhi Part II takes it one step further next Monday on Martin Luther King Day.
  5. The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ knows no creative limits beyond what happens on the stage as Bonnie Monte’s bold vision transformed an empty valve warehouse into the most creative theatrical workspace imaginable.  It has lifted the spirits of staff, offered new ways to earn revenue and once again lifted limits on what is possible for a relatively small theater company.
  6. Perkins Center for the Arts’ Empty Bowls fundraiser that supported individual artists working in clay, Perkins’ Scholarship Fund and the Food Bank of South Jersey. A beautiful exhibit complemented the purchase of empty handmade soup bowls filled with a simple meal and served to a gathering of caring community members.
  7. Winter Wonders at Grounds for Sculpture continues to entice art lovers to venture out during the winter months for a second year in a row with innovative outdoor lighting and complementary activities ranging from ice sculpture to a sold out book club featuring titles that highlight different facets of art.
  8. Our very own Inspiring Women Celebrating the Visual and Culinary Arts held last March at Hospitality House in Trenton forged a new partnership with the NJ Restaurant Association and helped ArtPride bring together an amazing group of artists and restaurateurs. Look for more info on the second event coming on March 4.
  9. Passage Theatre continues to be a source of creative energy (Trenton again!) with its Third Annual NJ One Minute Play Festival happening NEXT weekend, and Dancescapes NJ, a site specific celebration of Mercer County landscapes in partnership with the D&R Greenway Land Trust.
  10. Atlantic City has at long last recognized that there’s more to a tourism destination than a boardwalk full of casinos and is incorporating the arts as an integral part of their comprehensive marketing campaign.  Look for new artist work space in 2013 due to the perseverance of the Noyes Museum and Stockton State College, and the efforts of the Fung Collaborative as it continues to work with local artists through Artlantic to transform vacant space into exciting, engaging and interactive public art environments.

Image: The Gandhi Garden in Trenton.

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