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Newark Arts Unveils Promising Future for City's Artistic Movement

originally published: 06/18/2024

Newark Arts Unveils Promising Future for City

Newark Arts Executive Director during her presentation. Photo by Captured Canvas.

(NEWARK, NJ) -- Newark Arts recently hosted a triumphant State of the Arts event at Newark's Public Library's Centennial Hall, igniting optimism for the city's artistic landscape. The evening featured engaging presentations and discussions, illuminating the transformative potential of the arts in Newark.

Kicking off the event, Marcy DePina, President of the Board of Directors, extended a warm welcome, setting the stage for Executive Director Lauren LeBeaux Craig's unveiling of Newark Arts’ New 5-Year Strategic Plan. LeBeaux Craig underscored the arts' significant economic impact, stressing the imperative for strategic expansion to meet escalating demands.

The strategic plan charts a course through 2029 to deepen Newark Arts' influence by bolstering artist support, positioning Newark as an arts hub, fostering equitable growth, and harnessing the arts for urban revitalization. Sustainability, amplification of Newark Arts' message, and strategic alliances form the bedrock of this ambitious endeavor.

Newark Arts Unveils Promising Future for City

West Ward Councilman, Dupré Kelly and Newark Arts Executive Director, Lauren LeBeaux Craig during the Q&A session. Photo by Captured Canvas.

LeBeaux Craig delineated the transformative impact of various initiatives, including Newark’s Creative Catalyst Fund — an outgrowth of the Newark Creates cultural plan, which dispersed $2.35 million to 402 artists and small organizations from 2020 to 2023, and ArtStart grants, which has provided $1 million in micro grants since 2001. These programs, alongside the Newark Arts Festival, ArtSource, fiscal sponsorship, Creative Convenings, and emergency grants, have catalyzed artistic expression, community enrichment, and Newark's emergence as a cultural destination.

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Councilman Dupré Kelly, of the legendary hip-hop group Lords of the Underground, led a spirited Q&A session, emphasizing the arts' pivotal role in Newark's identity. The discourse underscored the need for increased funding to actualize the 5-year plan's objectives, with LeBeaux Craig advocating for Newark Arts' inclusion as a line item in both city and state budgets.

The event was wrapped with a mesmerizing performance by Gabriel Los Santos, an alum of the Newark School of the Arts, live painting courtesy of local visual artist Gregg Banks and music from DJ POPIDO. The highlight of the night was the announcement of the 20 Newark Arts 2024 ArtStart grantees underscoring the city's vibrant creative pulse.

For a complete listing of grantees and further insights into Newark Arts and its initiatives, visit

Newark Arts Unveils Promising Future for City

Newark Arts 2024-25 ArtStart grantees. Photo by Captured Canvas.

Newark Arts stands as a beacon driving Newark's global recognition as a City of the Arts. Over 43 years, Newark Arts has nurtured the city's arts and culture ecosystem, enriching the lives of all Newarkers. The mission of Newark Arts is to power the arts to transform lives. Established in 1981 as the Newark Arts Council, the organization’s vision is to become a nationally recognized catalyst for the collaborative power of the arts in the City of Newark and urban America. Newark Arts is the producer of the Newark Arts Festival and Newark Creates, a community-led citywide cultural plan, created in partnership with the City of Newark. Key initiatives include Arts Education Newark (AEN) and the ArtStart community grantmaking program.

Newark Arts is generously supported by Prudential Financial, the City of Newark, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Victoria Foundation, Turrell Fund, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, Hanini Group, TD Bank, Vermella Broad, individuals, businesses, and institutions.

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