Become an Newark Arts Ambassador

All week (hopefully) you have read my interviews with the staff of Newark Arts and their roles within the organization.

Today’s blogpost will feature Project Associate, Nikki Horwitz who is responsible for many things in the organization, but I will focus on her management of the many volunteers or Ambassadors as they call them.

Horwitz explained the process of how to become an ambassador, why they are so vital in this organization and while not paid, but provided with numerous benefits and opportunities.  For instance, I became an ambassador as a way of getting acclimated in Newark after I moved there. That was over a year ago. I have since made some new friendships, have been exposed to different forms of arts, met well-known to up and coming artists, and learned valuable skills such as outreach, marketing, networking, event planning and more. It also looks very good on my resume, but also inspired me to create a daily social calendar of events happening in Newark that this organization now fully promotes on their website as well.

With the Open Doors Citywide Festival coming up, the organization depends on it’s ambassadors to assist well before the commencement of this four day event. Horwitz explained this can take many forms. From distributing informational handouts throughout Newark and beyond, identifying spots for exhibits, recruiting new ambassadors, reaching out to artists and so much more.  If you are interested, send her an email or by signing up online.

For Ambassador Paul Dennison said he volunteers with Newark Arts because “I wanted to find a way to support the arts.” He cited his favorite way is doing so is during the Open Doors Citywide Festival. “This includes supporting the (participating) galleries by doing set ups prior to the event with clean up, arranging the art pieces.”

Throughout the year, there are still plenty of opportunities to volunteer for Newark Arts. I would encourage you to do so for the reasons I provided, but also be a part of something great now that cultural plan for Newark was announced this week.




Opening The Doors To Newark Arts

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Today’s blog post features an interview with Newark Arts Marketing Manager,         Lauren Craig.

We talked about how Newark Arts is opening the doors for artists of all types, gallery owners, curators, Newark residents, visitors to Newark, people that work in the city and beyond.

This year marks the 16th year of Newark Arts Open Doors Citywide Festival that Craig promised will be the “best year yet. You will be amazed at the star power at this year’s Open Doors.”

In case you did not know what Open Doors is: Craig explained, it’s a citywide arts festival in Newark, “where all the doors of the studios, galleries and lots of popups are open. This year it’s October 12-15th. We invite the community, not just the Newark community, but statewide and the surrounding areas to come and visit see all that Newark Arts has to offer.”

A little different this year  while the participating venues will be open all throughout the festival each day there will be cluster for a particular area. Follow Newark Arts for up to date info and details.

October 12th

University Heights District: Fownders

October 13th Market Street District: Gallery Aferro, Art and Artifacts of Newark, Index Art Center

October 14th

Halsey Street District that includes the Newark Print Shop, City Without Walls including the popular Murals and Martinis Tour that concludes with a sneak peak into to soon to be opened The Grammy Museum and more.

October 15th

Gateway District , Project for Empty Space;  Ironbound and Military Park District

Other ways this not for profit agency is opening the doors to arts in Newark is by providing and administering of ArtStart grants to artists of all types that work with the community and youth. Craig explained, “It is a selection process that gives artists anywhere from $3,000-5,000 to fund their program.” She added, “That (these grants) have funded a lot to well-known art organizations in Newark, (such as helping getting) the Newark Print Shop started. This year there 16 recipients.

Another way is through partnerships with companies and organizations such as Newark Downtown District and Greater Newark Visitors Bureau. Craig said, “We’re the promotional power behind different events that we partner with.” They post and share what’s happening mostly through social media as it’s the most effective way to reach people. I would definitely encourage everyone to like and follow as well as check out the Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival.image001 (1).








Newark Arts Builds Bridges In Newark

As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came upon a post that was captioned “Art builds bridges.” This statement cannot be more fitting as Mayor Ras J. Baraka of the City of Newark plans to announce the Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 (AEP5) report on September 12th at 1130am in City Hall.

The leading organization behind this is Newark Arts. Everyday this week I will feature and introduce you to staff.

Today I introduce you to Executive Director, Jeremy Johnson and Executive Assistant to Jeremy V. Johnson and Office Manager, Ruby Annette Evans.

In an interview  with them, they both reiterated the mission of Newark Arts, “Powering the arts to transform the lives who work, live and play in the great city of Newark, New Jersey.”

Johnson explains, “We are like the electricity that powers the house and without the electricity, they (appliances) don’t work. We bring the power to the arts, funding to the arts, art folks together by helping make Newark a city of the arts that brings it to Newarkers and people beyond Newark.”

He adds, “Newark Arts helps facilitate this by bringing together people and initiatives that help make the city stronger through lots of partnerships. He says, “We are like a bunch of artistic cats. We corral them together.”

He emphasizes that this could not be possible with their greatest ally, The Mayor. Mayor Baraka, who is an artist himself from the beginning of his administration has supported the arts in all it’s forms. He created The Office of Arts, Cultural Development and Tourism that is led by Gwen Moten.

Newark Arts also helps artists by giving them a voice. Evans who is the “eyes and ears keeping him apprisedof all matters” of Johnson, says, “We are the mouthpiece for artists who might not have the opportunity to be seen, heard, or for people to witness their great work and contributions here in the city.” She emphasized that “If they (artists) connect with us, then we can connect them to other opportunities.” She cited the example when “corporate sponsors call looking to fill their walls and spaces” the organization in turn reaches out to the artists.

After speaking with Johnson, it is evident his love for the arts and Newark are one in the same. He says, “Art helps the economy and make our city grow, healthier, safer, more beautiful, more educated, a more prideful city.”

He cited a number of ways that this is already happening to a city that has had it’s unfair casting of negative perceptions over the years. On any given Thursday summer evening, there is NJPAC’s Sounds of the City. Other days dogs are bringing their humans to the movies at The Newark Museum and the next day gathering with folks watching the eclipse and learning from the astronomers at the museum’s planetarium. When driving, drivers can take in Gateway To Newark (Portraits) mural along McCarter Highway or a number of them on once blighted buildings around the city.

As Newark moves forward, Johnson does have a wish list for Newark Arts and the city. They include: “More young people to have more arts in their lives by having people invested in the city’s youth join and participate in the Newark Arts Education RoundTable (NAER), that are making things happen.” Another is for “artists that call Newark home and will remain their home as they build their craft as they find art lovers to enjoy their art.” For neighborhoods: “to have funding and dollars to bring art to far flung areas of Newark that don’t always get the attention and help they need…who could be inspired by art if they could access it more.”











The Women of Newark, New Jersey Are Loved

On May 12, 2017 the City of Newark opened The Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center for women of every nationality, ethnicity, straight, LGBTQ residing in Newark and affected by domestic violence.

As a survivor, I felt fortunate to be at this event because when I went thorugh my own ordeal, Newark was where I received the most help while I was living in and after I moved out of a domestic violence shelter. When women who are experiencing this, there is often the feeling no one understands what I am going through. Society as a whole tends to treat domestic violence as a personal problem rather than the real epidemic that it is. For a city to open a center such as this one is a huge step in letting women know that the abuse not their fault, they are not alone and caring people are employed in positions to help.

We were welcomed by Amina Bey, Executive Director, Newark Workforce Development Board, followed by a moving prayer by Rev. Louise Roundtree, musical selections by Newark Boys Choir, and a poem by one of Newark’s well-known artists, Kween Moore who was accompanied by Bassist, Jamale D Deshon as she recited her piece.

It was an event, according to Mayor Ras Baraka both a “sad and happy occasion.” Sad because his beloved sister, the namesake of this center bears the name Shani Baraka. Shani lost her life because of a fatal domestic violence incident With family members, The Newark City Council, Newark dignitaries, community partners and organizations, and survivors residents in attendance, Mayor Baraka’s eyes welled up as he reflected on this once neglected lot he drives by daily.

The happiness comes from how that became a one-stop shop for all Newark women gay or straight and their children in crisis due to domestic violence. Typically, one affected by domestic violence would have to visit multiple agencies throughout the city in order to receive assistance for the services they required. Now they do not have to, as everything but the courts are located within the center. The services offered include counseling, mental health services, shelter, job placement and training as well assistance from the Newark Police Department‘s Special Victims Unit and the mandated Domestic Violence Response Team. As the mayor promised and said, “the most vulnerable amongst us will finally get help” noting that the majority of the 300,000 residents of Newark are women.

Once his acknowledgements concluded, family members participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony. Then guests were invited inside to tour the center and the staff of the programs housed within, watch a video by FilmMaker, LeRon Lee  and Cobblestone MultiMedia, and partake in the reception. The video featured women who openly spoke about their experiences being affected by domestic violence and praised the opening of the center. You can surmise that had this center been available to them, they would have definitely utilized it.

Continuing on the theme of how much Newark loves women, the unveiling of Yendor Productions latest mural, Every Mother is taking place on Saturday May 13th, 2017 at 545 Hawthorne Avenue, Rodney Gilbert, Executive Director, Yendor Productions explained, “The mural is dedicated to mothers who lost their children to violence or some other kind of loss.” His mission is “to serve underserved populations while beautifying the city.”  He added, “Yendor and the city want to let the mothers know we love them and we are family.

After the unveiling, there will be a reception at the resource center beginning at 12pm. His hopes are for the mothers to learn about the services and take advantage of them as they begin to living without their deceased children. In a sense, let them know they are not alone as he said, “we are all family.”

Edit: Please note due to inclement weather the mural unveiling and reception that was to follow has been postponed for another date not yet scheduled.

The Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center is located at 300 Clinton Avenue, Newark NJ         Monday-Friday 830am-500pm Tel. 973-757-7377
National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and 1-800-787-3224
In the event there is an emergency, call 911.