After five whole and wonderful weeks on the job, I have been asked to reflect and share impressions. Here are some thoughts.
I forgot how much I missed being in Trenton. My 23 years at the State Arts Council hold some of my most cherished memories. And yes, I’m a political junkie. It’s wonderful to reconnect with colleagues, explore old haunts, and come to realize just how many constituencies, issues and challenges the arts and the humanities have in common.
Having spent my entire career in the arts and humanities, including many interactions with the Humanities Council, I am immensely impressed with its current programs and the professional expertise and dedication of the small, but mighty staff. The level of accountability, transparency, attention to detail, and sheer savvy are inspiring and further evidence of Briann Greenfield’s remarkable leadership.
Still, it is the Council’s diversity of programs and devotion to providing public value that capture my heart. The openness of Action Grants, the helpfulness of Incubation Grants, the richness of Public Scholars Project offerings, the willingness to tackle tough issues, such as dialogue between cops and kids, or embrace new approaches to literacy, such as through comic books…all this and more…strike me as, as, as just brilliant… so diverse in nature and content.
I value diversity highly and believe it to be one of our greatest strengths as a pluralistic society. I love New Jersey’s diversity, perhaps the richest in our nation.
But now we turn to the task of better assuring that New Jerseyans of all sorts everywhere benefit from our programs starting first with the Public Scholars Project. With over 65 scholars and nearly 100 programs, we are heartened by the variety of offerings. Still, with what we know about where they most often occur and who is attending, we know we can do better in reaching wider, more diverse audiences. A recent policy change limiting the number of programs that an organization can annually receive free (once the subsidized programs have all been awarded you can purchase them), accompanied by wider promotion will move us forward. You can help too. Tell a friend, a colleague, an organization to which you belong…help us spread the word. Drive them to our website njhumanities.org. They’ll see the possibilities immediately, because they’ll find things they truly value. I guarantee it.
Interim Executive Director