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New Jersey Arts Community Moves Toward Equity, Justice, and Anti-racism with Two-Day Virtual Gathering


New Jersey Arts Community Moves Toward Equity, Justice, and Anti-racism with Two-Day Virtual Gathering

New Jersey Theatre Alliance and ArtPride New Jersey, the states two largest arts service organizations, will partner to bring the arts community together through a virtual gathering built around reflecting, healing, and learning while working toward a more equitable, just, and anti-racist arts and cultural sector.

Creating Change: Moving Toward Equity, Justice, and Anti-racism in the New Jersey Arts Community, is now open for registration and will take place virtually on April 22 and 23, 2021. To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, click here.

Creating Change was designed by a steering committee chaired by Donna Walker-Kuhne, Senior Advisor for Community Engagement at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). Acknowledged as the nation’s foremost expert in Audience Development by the Arts &Business Council, Ms. Walker-Kuhne has devoted her professional career to increasing access to the arts. The committee is made up of staff from the two host organizations, New Jersey Theatre Alliance and ArtPride New Jersey, as well as arts leaders from around the state and representatives from nonprofit organizations outside of the arts, such as the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

New Jersey Arts Community Moves Toward Equity, Justice, and Anti-racism with Two-Day Virtual Gathering

Headlining the gathering will be award-winning playwright and actor Nikkole Salter, with a keynote talk focused on the importance of speaking truth to power and reckoning with history to inform the future, and Vu Le, founder of the popular, irreverent, and influential blog “NonProfit AF.” Mr. Le’s talk will explore some of the current practices in the nonprofit arts sector that can reinforce oppressive systems, and begin to offer alternative models. 

 “As Steering Committee Chair, I am honored to work with a group of New Jersey arts administrators and artists who have made a solid commitment to illuminate, educate and illustrate how we move towards equity, justice and anti-racism in our arts community,” Said Ms. Walker-Kuhne. “This will be a dynamic two days filled with thoughtful discussions and presentations on what needs to be done by each individual to build an anti-racist arts community in New Jersey and beyond. Every single participant will play a critical role in creating the culture of equity, belonging, and respect.”

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"Creating Change will hopefully be the beginning of learning, respecting, and understanding more about everyone arts and cultural organizations work with and serve," said Chase Jackson, Program and Grants Manager for the Bayshore Center at Bivalve, and a member of the event Steering Committee. "We are working together towards a more inclusive and equitable arts and cultural community in all of New Jersey. With that, I implore our South Jersey cultural and art institutions to participate in this symposium. It's not only time; It is overdue and no longer debatable!"

Following the keynote speeches each day there will be breakout sessions on a variety of topics with speakers and facilitators from around the country as well as New Jersey arts and culture leaders. Both days will also showcase New Jersey artists, including a gallery of visual art, and original poems performed by Dr. Antoinette Ellis-Williams, chair of Gender Studies at New Jersey City University, and Amos Koffa, winner of the 2017 Poetry Out Loud New Jersey state championship.

“We see this gathering as a chance to bring the arts community together to recognize the harm that has been experienced by people of color in our field, begin healing, and collectively move towards a more just and equitable future for the arts,” said John McEwen, Executive Director of New Jersey Theatre Alliance. “We are grateful for the support of our sponsors, which will allow us to keep ticket prices accessible and to position this event as a launching pad for many more opportunities to learn, grow, and connect together as a field.”

New Jersey Arts Community Moves Toward Equity, Justice, and Anti-racism with Two-Day Virtual Gathering

“ArtPride is grateful to have strong partners like the New Jersey Theatre Alliance as we strive together for social justice and equitable access to the arts for all,” added Adam Perle, President & CEO of ArtPride New Jersey. “Creating Change is an opportunity for the cultural community to see how our collective impact can shape a fairer, more just New Jersey.”

Creating Change is supported by the Grunin Foundation as a Spotlight Sponsor. Additional support is provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, and PSEG. 

“The Grunin Foundation is dedicated to championing a just and equitable society, and we know how important the arts are in helping to foster dialogue and unity in the face of social and racial injustice issues,” said Jeremy Grunin, President of the Grunin Foundation. “We are proud to support the Creating Change Symposium, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, and ArtPride, as they work to move towards equity, justice and anti-racism in the New Jersey arts community.” 

"We recognize the importance of a holistic and statewide approach to addressing issues of equity and access in the arts. We’re proud to be part of Creating Change, and commend the Theatre Alliance and ArtPride for their leadership in bringing the sector together for this event,” said Allison Tratner, Executive Director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. “Understanding, challenging, and addressing these issues is central to the State Arts Council’s work and to the strength of the arts community in New Jersey. We look forward to learning with and from our colleagues in the field.”

Founded in 1981, New Jersey Theatre Alliance was the first statewide service organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is a leader in developing model programs that unite, promote, strengthen, and cultivate professional theatre in New Jersey. Funding for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, and contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations including Amazon, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Grunin Foundation, The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Bank of America, City National Bank, The Shubert Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Investors Bank, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, Kessler Foundation, The F.M. Kirby Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, and The Union Foundation.

The ArtPride New Jersey Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization that promotes the value of the arts to New Jersey’s quality of life, education, and economic vitality through research and a variety of programs and services. 

originally published: 03/25/2021



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