Launch of New Jersey Arts Administrators of Color Network
In October of 2019, New Jersey Theatre Alliance developed New Jersey Arts Administrators of Color (NJAAC) with the intent to establish a network of professional arts administrators of color while advancing efforts related to equity, diversity, and inclusion within New Jersey’s arts community. This initiative is a partnership between New Jersey Theatre Alliance (NJTA), the state’s service organization for professional producing theatre companies, ArtPride New Jersey, the state’s largest arts service and advocacy organization, and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
“The Council is committed to achieving greater equity in arts leadership in New Jersey," said Porché Hardy, Council Program Officer, “Highlighting the skills and abilities of arts leaders who identify as people of color in our state is key to systematic change.”
NJTA is spearheading this project to provide self-identified people of color working in the state’s arts organizations a safe space to connect, and a platform to share their expertise, experiences, and creativity. NJAAC’s mission is to connect, empower, and cultivate professional arts and cultural leaders throughout the Garden State. The program aims to build a community that affords members the opportunity to develop personal and professional connections, share resources, and foster emerging leaders.
“A network such as this is essential in our field to increase the visibility of people of color,” said Deonte Griffin-Quick, Manager of Programs and Services for New Jersey Theatre Alliance, and the lead coordinator of this effort.
As three of the state’s leading arts service organizations, the partnership between New Jersey Theatre Alliance, ArtPride New Jersey, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts guarantees a greater impact to address concerns related to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the state.
“ArtPride is proud to collaborate with our statewide partners, NJTA and the State Arts Council, on the creation of this important, new network” says Vincent Hall, the Membership Services Associate of ArtPride. “NJAAC will provide a great opportunity for people of color to join together and discuss issues of diversity within New Jersey's arts community, as well as ways in which we can improve it."
Similar networks have been formed in communities across the country, including Washington D.C., Boston, and Pittsburgh. Earlier this year several New Jersey arts leaders joined 300 arts administrators and artists of color in Washington D.C. for two days of learning, community building, and exploration.
In November of 2019, over 50 arts administrators of color convened in Camden and Newark to celebrate the launch of this new program. Participants were introduced to the potential benefits of this network such as professional development opportunities, a mentorship program, and granting opportunities to support individual professional advancements. Participants also had the opportunity to connect with one and another while also expressing their desires and wishes for NJAAC.
To date, there are currently 90 members in the NJAAC network, all coming from diverse backgrounds, organizations, communities, and management levels. To support the growth and development of this program, several members of the network have been invited and accepted the call to serve as this network’s advisory committee. Michael “Miko” Castillo (Montclair State University), Andrea Cuevas-Ugrinovic (McCarter Theatre Center) Chase Jackson (Bayshore Center at Bivalve), Kayla Kim Votapek (Rutgers University), Dontae Muse (Above Art Studios), Taneshia Nash Laird (Newark Symphony Hall), and Anita Thomas (Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company) make up the dynamic committee bringing a wealth of knowledge, experience, and talent to the table. Porché Hardy (NJSCA), Vincent Hall (ArtPride New Jersey), and Deonté Griffin-Quick (NJTA) join the group to represent the three partner organizations of this program.
Quarterly gatherings are in development for network members. Future gatherings may include social outings, panels on the importance of producing art in urban communities, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities focused on fundraising.
To learn more about how to join this network or attend future gatherings, please contact Deonté Griffin-Quick at firstname.lastname@example.org.