407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director

David Miller

The Power of the Arts to
Transform Communities


David A. Miller
Executive Director, New Jersey State Council
on the Arts

Whether the issue is smart growth, master planning, brownfields or branding, the arts can

Photo - Art Gallery
More than 50,000 professional artists call New Jersey home and this year alone the nonprofit arts will produce over 10,000 public events and draw audiences in excess of 18,000,000 people (That's more than will attend all the sports and commercial entertainment events of the Meadowlands.)

contribute to community success. Everywhere we look in New Jersey we see more and more examples of how local leaders are recognizing the power of the arts to revitalize, transform and redefine the identities of their communities. The NJ State Council on the Arts in the Department of State is anxious to work with municipal leaders on all of these issues, because it seeks the same goals as they do, strong, healthy, vibrant and creative, communities.

Why Include the Arts in Your Economic and Community Development Planning? What do all the following things have in common?

  • It's the single greatest factor that has tripled property values and tax revenues in downtown Millville and attracted four new restaurants in the last year alone.
  • It's attracted 25 percent more diners to New Brunswick restaurants on nights when theatres are active.
  • It's one of the top reasons corporations and major businesses cite for where they decide to locate, stay and expand.
  • It's the aspect of tourism (New Jersey's second largest industry) that will attract visitors who spend nearly twice the time and money as the average visitor and come back more often.
  • It's one of the best indicators for student success and an indicator of the most successful schools.
  • It's a major factor in reversing the trend of outflight that is bringing population back to Red Bank.

"I'm proud to say that the Red Bank is now the cultural mecca of Monmouth County. County residents, regional travelers, as well as New Yorkers and Philadelphians are attracted by our cultural offerings. The arts have played an integral role in our Vision Plan and have not only attracted visitors but residents as well (our population has grown 15-20 percent in the last 10 years. The flourishing arts community is also responsible for growth in new business as well as the increased value of our real estate. The arts have proven to be a very successful investment for Red Bank."

—Mayor Edward J. McKenna Jr. Red Bank

If you guessed art and culture, you're right. When the theatres of New Brunswick are churning, so are the restaurants, and taxis and gift shops. When the Cape May Music Festival is in full swing so are the bed and breakfasts. Kids who study the arts have better attendance, higher test scores and greater participation in school civic activities. When they graduate high school they are also nearly twice as likely to vote.

When NJPAC in Newark runs its Thursday Night Sounds of the City, thousands of workers, who normally vacate the city as quickly as possible, stay. And, when people are on the streets at night, those are generally safer streets. Eighteen New Jersey municipalities now have First Night Celebrations built largely on the arts. Scores more have arts-centered community events. These trends demonstrate the capacity of the arts to engage people in pivotal ways and strengthen civic identity.

The nonprofit arts in New Jersey is a 1.5 billion annual industry that supports 17,000 arts related businesses and employs or supports the employment of over 90,000 New Jerseyans. More than 50,000 professional artists call New Jersey home and this year alone the nonprofit arts will produce over 10,000 public events and draw audiences in excess of 18,000,000 people (That's more than will attend all the sports and commercial entertainment events of the Meadowlands.) And those patrons will spend more than twice the ticket price in the local economy. The arts are good business and artists are powerful creative capital.

Cape May - Emlen Physick Estate
The Emlen Physick Estate is Cape May's only Victorian House Museum. The town's history and architecture make it a leading tourist destination.

Council on the Arts Funding Annually, NJSCA awards over 200 grants--mostly for the operations, programs and projects of organizations with multi-county or statewide benefit. Of them 21 go to County Arts Agencies, which in turn re-grant nearly 80 percent of the funding (which was over $2.5 million this year) to some 550 local arts groups and projects.

The Council's work is largely guided by the 1998 Arts Plan NJ, which is an overarching blueprint of a better New Jersey through and for the arts. Under its principle of including the broadest cross section of New Jersey possible in the work of art and culture, the Council has become a strong advocate of community cultural planning and community arts development. (To learn more about the Plan, please visit: www.ArtsPlanNJ.com)

The Council has two new grant programs that may be of particular interest to municipalities: Projects Serving Artists and Community Arts Collaborations. The former will entertain proposals for commissioning works of art, including public artworks. The latter can be an effective vehicle to partner the arts with other civic organizations when the arts can help meet a community challenge. These grants can also support community cultural planning.


The nonprofit arts in New Jersey is a 1.5 billion industry that supports 17,000 arts related businesses and employs or supports the employment of over 90,000 New Jerseyans.


The Council has funding programs that place artists in local schools and support the work of cultural institutions with strong educational programs. It supports community-based arts projects of all sorts and promotes the research into and presentation of New Jersey's remarkably diverse folk and traditional communities. And the Council is a national leader in promoting art in public places.

This new attention to the arts as community builders has the Council more active than ever writing articles and joining the agenda of League conferences and meetings and working more closely with municipal planners. A primer about cultural planning is being developed that can be used by the New Jersey Planning Officials organization in the orientation and training of all newly appointed local planning and zoning board officials.

NJSCA also works with the Transit Village program and looks forward to a growing relationship with the League of Municipalities and continually expanding the circle of discussion and joint ventures with community development leaders.

The Arts as a Smart Investment The Council's FY05 budget stands at $24.5 million. Non-profits will overmatch this investment nearly 12:1 and will return over $30 million in New Jersey income taxes.

This is one more way of seeing the arts as more than a worthy investment, and the Council encourages all jurisdictions to increase their outlays for the arts and culture. The simple truth is that they return more than they take. But what they give back is so much more than just dollars and cents. It is also reassuring to note that success through the arts is being achieved in every corner of the state and in every demographic, and the tremendous diversity in the stories they tell strongly suggests that it is in every community's best interest to engage them, but in strategic ways that build on the resources, identity and goals of the particular community. There is no one formula for success; although there is always a role for the arts to play.

In addition to the programs and services of the Arts Council, the State supports cultural projects through the New Jersey Historical Commission, the New Jersey Cultural Trust and the New Jersey Historic Trust. There are many others throughout the various departments of state government, which are now most easily located through the state website. Remember, local arts programs are supported by NJSCA through the network of the County Arts Agencies, so become familiar with yours (they are on the Arts Council website: www.njartscouncil.org). Still, the Arts Council views it as the responsibility of government at all levels to make these important financial investments. Increasingly, the National Endowment for the Arts funds local initiatives (www.nea.gov/).

Resources on Community Cultural Planning. For publications on cultural planning contact the Arts Extension Service of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (www.umass.edu/aes) which has published two handbooks: Community Cultural Planning Work Kit by Louise K. Stevens and the Cultural Planning Handbook: A Guidebook for Community Leaders by Craig Dreeszen. To order call 413-545-2360. Also see the design handbook created for mayors by the National Endowment for the Arts: Mayors' Institute on City Design. To order call 800-722-6657. Be sure to visit the Cultural Planning Resource Room on the ArtPride NJ website: www.artpridenj.com to read, Putting the Arts on the Civic Agenda.

How to Nurture the Arts in Your Town

  • Include arts, history and culture when developing of a municipal business plan or Master Plan. They are among your major assets.
  • Involve professional artists in civic groups and agencies to conduct your planning. They can provide creative solutions.
  • Build community events around the cultural qualities and talents of your community. It strengthens your identiy and attracts a broader and more diverse audience.
  • It is vital to be authentic. Visitors, tourists and patrons really can tell the difference and will go for authenticity every time.
  • Public art can be a powerful tool, but it needs a sturdy, organic process that has integrity and it can't be done on the cheap. Use residents (including non-eligible for the commission artists) to define the project. Receive at least three proposals. Don't be afraid to say "no." And don't forget that the community will live with the outcome for a long time. So think it out in advance and be prepared for its maintenance.
  • Insist on quality design in everything-even a parking garage. It can be as simple as rearranging the pattern of bricks.
  • Remember, it is often actually easier to sell and resource a big idea if it is well grounded and captures the imagination of many people than small ones in that may initially seem more financially feasibility.
  • There are no cookie cutter solutions. Not every community needs a theatre, concert hall and fine arts gallery. Work first with what already exists NJLM - The Power of the Arts to Transform Communities

    407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
     NJLM logo 

    William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director

    David Miller

    The Power of the Arts to
    Transform Communities


    David A. Miller
    Executive Director, New Jersey State Council
    on the Arts

    Whether the issue is smart growth, master planning, brownfields or branding, the arts can

    Photo - Art Gallery
    More than 50,000 professional artists call New Jersey home and this year alone the nonprofit arts will produce over 10,000 public events and draw audiences in excess of 18,000,000 people (That's more than will attend all the sports and commercial entertainment events of the Meadowlands.)

    contribute to community success. Everywhere we look in New Jersey we see more and more examples of how local leaders are recognizing the power of the arts to revitalize, transform and redefine the identities of their communities. The NJ State Council on the Arts in the Department of State is anxious to work with municipal leaders on all of these issues, because it seeks the same goals as they do, strong, healthy, vibrant and creative, communities.

    Why Include the Arts in Your Economic and Community Development Planning? What do all the following things have in common?

    • It's the single greatest factor that has tripled property values and tax revenues in downtown Millville and attracted four new restaurants in the last year alone.
    • It's attracted 25 percent more diners to New Brunswick restaurants on nights when theatres are active.
    • It's one of the top reasons corporations and major businesses cite for where they decide to locate, stay and expand.
    • It's the aspect of tourism (New Jersey's second largest industry) that will attract visitors who spend nearly twice the time and money as the average visitor and come back more often.
    • It's one of the best indicators for student success and an indicator of the most successful schools.
    • It's a major factor in reversing the trend of outflight that is bringing population back to Red Bank.

    "I'm proud to say that the Red Bank is now the cultural mecca of Monmouth County. County residents, regional travelers, as well as New Yorkers and Philadelphians are attracted by our cultural offerings. The arts have played an integral role in our Vision Plan and have not only attracted visitors but residents as well (our population has grown 15-20 percent in the last 10 years. The flourishing arts community is also responsible for growth in new business as well as the increased value of our real estate. The arts have proven to be a very successful investment for Red Bank."

    —Mayor Edward J. McKenna Jr. Red Bank

    If you guessed art and culture, you're right. When the theatres of New Brunswick are churning, so are the restaurants, and taxis and gift shops. When the Cape May Music Festival is in full swing so are the bed and breakfasts. Kids who study the arts have better attendance, higher test scores and greater participation in school civic activities. When they graduate high school they are also nearly twice as likely to vote.

    When NJPAC in Newark runs its Thursday Night Sounds of the City, thousands of workers, who normally vacate the city as quickly as possible, stay. And, when people are on the streets at night, those are generally safer streets. Eighteen New Jersey municipalities now have First Night Celebrations built largely on the arts. Scores more have arts-centered community events. These trends demonstrate the capacity of the arts to engage people in pivotal ways and strengthen civic identity.

    The nonprofit arts in New Jersey is a 1.5 billion annual industry that supports 17,000 arts related businesses and employs or supports the employment of over 90,000 New Jerseyans. More than 50,000 professional artists call New Jersey home and this year alone the nonprofit arts will produce over 10,000 public events and draw audiences in excess of 18,000,000 people (That's more than will attend all the sports and commercial entertainment events of the Meadowlands.) And those patrons will spend more than twice the ticket price in the local economy. The arts are good business and artists are powerful creative capital.

    Cape May - Emlen Physick Estate
    The Emlen Physick Estate is Cape May's only Victorian House Museum. The town's history and architecture make it a leading tourist destination.

    Council on the Arts Funding Annually, NJSCA awards over 200 grants--mostly for the operations, programs and projects of organizations with multi-county or statewide benefit. Of them 21 go to County Arts Agencies, which in turn re-grant nearly 80 percent of the funding (which was over $2.5 million this year) to some 550 local arts groups and projects.

    The Council's work is largely guided by the 1998 Arts Plan NJ, which is an overarching blueprint of a better New Jersey through and for the arts. Under its principle of including the broadest cross section of New Jersey possible in the work of art and culture, the Council has become a strong advocate of community cultural planning and community arts development. (To learn more about the Plan, please visit: www.ArtsPlanNJ.com)

    The Council has two new grant programs that may be of particular interest to municipalities: Projects Serving Artists and Community Arts Collaborations. The former will entertain proposals for commissioning works of art, including public artworks. The latter can be an effective vehicle to partner the arts with other civic organizations when the arts can help meet a community challenge. These grants can also support community cultural planning.


    The nonprofit arts in New Jersey is a 1.5 billion industry that supports 17,000 arts related businesses and employs or supports the employment of over 90,000 New Jerseyans.


    The Council has funding programs that place artists in local schools and support the work of cultural institutions with strong educational programs. It supports community-based arts projects of all sorts and promotes the research into and presentation of New Jersey's remarkably diverse folk and traditional communities. And the Council is a national leader in promoting art in public places.

    This new attention to the arts as community builders has the Council more active than ever writing articles and joining the agenda of League conferences and meetings and working more closely with municipal planners. A primer about cultural planning is being developed that can be used by the New Jersey Planning Officials organization in the orientation and training of all newly appointed local planning and zoning board officials.

    NJSCA also works with the Transit Village program and looks forward to a growing relationship with the League of Municipalities and continually expanding the circle of discussion and joint ventures with community development leaders.

    The Arts as a Smart Investment The Council's FY05 budget stands at $24.5 million. Non-profits will overmatch this investment nearly 12:1 and will return over $30 million in New Jersey income taxes.

    This is one more way of seeing the arts as more than a worthy investment, and the Council encourages all jurisdictions to increase their outlays for the arts and culture. The simple truth is that they return more than they take. But what they give back is so much more than just dollars and cents. It is also reassuring to note that success through the arts is being achieved in every corner of the state and in every demographic, and the tremendous diversity in the stories they tell strongly suggests that it is in every community's best interest to engage them, but in strategic ways that build on the resources, identity and goals of the particular community. There is no one formula for success; although there is always a role for the arts to play.

    In addition to the programs and services of the Arts Council, the State supports cultural projects through the New Jersey Historical Commission, the New Jersey Cultural Trust and the New Jersey Historic Trust. There are many others throughout the various departments of state government, which are now most easily located through the state website. Remember, local arts programs are supported by NJSCA through the network of the County Arts Agencies, so become familiar with yours (they are on the Arts Council website: www.njartscouncil.org). Still, the Arts Council views it as the responsibility of government at all levels to make these important financial investments. Increasingly, the National Endowment for the Arts funds local initiatives (www.nea.gov/).

    Resources on Community Cultural Planning. For publications on cultural planning contact the Arts Extension Service of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (www.umass.edu/aes) which has published two handbooks: Community Cultural Planning Work Kit by Louise K. Stevens and the Cultural Planning Handbook: A Guidebook for Community Leaders by Craig Dreeszen. To order call 413-545-2360. Also see the design handbook created for mayors by the National Endowment for the Arts: Mayors' Institute on City Design. To order call 800-722-6657. Be sure to visit the Cultural Planning Resource Room on the ArtPride NJ website: www.artpridenj.com to read, Putting the Arts on the Civic Agenda.

    How to Nurture the Arts in Your Town

    • Include arts, history and culture when developing of a municipal business plan or Master Plan. They are among your major assets.
    • Involve professional artists in civic groups and agencies to conduct your planning. They can provide creative solutions.
    • Build community events around the cultural qualities and talents of your community. It strengthens your identiy and attracts a broader and more diverse audience.
    • It is vital to be authentic. Visitors, tourists and patrons really can tell the difference and will go for authenticity every time.
    • Public art can be a powerful tool, but it needs a sturdy, organic process that has integrity and it can't be done on the cheap. Use residents (including non-eligible for the commission artists) to define the project. Receive at least three proposals. Don't be afraid to say "no." And don't forget that the community will live with the outcome for a long time. So think it out in advance and be prepared for its maintenance.
    • Insist on quality design in everything-even a parking garage. It can be as simple as rearranging the pattern of bricks.
    • Remember, it is often actually easier to sell and resource a big idea if it is well grounded and captures the imagination of many people than small ones in that may initially seem more financially feasibility.
    • There are no cookie cutter solutions. Not every community needs a theatre, concert hall and fine arts gallery. Work first with what already exists in the community and beware of the "edifice complex." People come to the desire for an art center way too quickly and rarely, if ever, contemplate let alone understand, what it actually takes to operate one successfully.

     

     

    Article in June 2005, New Jersey Municipalities