After 18 months of research and assessment the Monmouth Arts is excited to share the updated County Arts Plan – Imagine//Envision//Create.. The plan builds on the success of the original Blueprint for the Arts and identifies challenges for the future.
Clearly Superstorm Sandy has brought new challenges with so many towns needing to rebuild their boardwalks, businesses and homes. It is a testament to how connected our artists and arts groups are to their communities that they responded immediately in so many ways.
At Monmouth Arts, as soon as we got electricity back we opened our office to those without heat, light and internet. We compiled information on resources for artists, arts groups and businesses and reached out to assess how the hurricane had impacted them. We were able to connect those in needs to resources, sometimes within minutes thanks to social media.
This effort became ArtHelps which included an Indiegogo campaign to bring artists and arts groups to rebuild spirits in communities hardest hit by Sandy and to help Monmouth Arts provide programs, services and information to artists and arts groups dealing with the aftermath of the storm.
Two River Theater’s lobby became a community recharging station for both people and Electronics. Colorest opened their studio space to artists who needed space. Belmar Arts Council suspended their programs and jumped in to help their town when their space was taken over for a relief staging area. Belmar then asked their Arts Council to paint the concrete barriers along Ocean Aveenue to lift spirits. Middletown Arts Center gave respite to out of school students (and their parents) with a place for creative activities. Atlantic Highlands Arts Council quickly changed an upcoming concert into a benefit for their town. The Ministry of Artistic Intent brought over 40 local musicians, poets, artists and comedians together to benefit the Monmouth Arts’ and the Union Beach Middle School’s Band. And the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation decided this was the time to take on an exhibition/performance space to give people another reason to visit Asbury Park.
The arts can help with both the emotional and economic impact of the storm. We can give those working to restore their lives respite from this hard work. We can enliven downtowns with performances and exhibitions even if the beaches and boardwalks aren’t yet open. Artists can help communities traumatized by the storm to express their loss and hope for the future. The arts community can be part of community and economic planning taking place through our towns, the county and long term recovery efforts.
The updated plan will take us through 2017 which may be a little hard to imagine. As we learned this fall we can plan, but the unexpected happens. As with the original plan, it does not belong to the Monmouth County Arts Council’s or any one organization. It’s up to all of us to move the arts forward in the county and as the expression goes be the change we want to see. We invite every artist, arts group and arts supporter to see how you can Imagine/Envision/Create a place where the arts contribute to Monmouth County’s future.