The arts will continue to flourish in Burlington County this year with the help of $89,076 in state funding the County will use to sponsor exhibits and programs and share with ten nonprofit organizations for additional arts initiatives and activities.
The funding was awarded to the County by the New Jersey Arts Council and is intended to support visual and performing arts in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties. Burlington County plans to use $47,076 of the funding to sponsor arts projects, exhibits and events. The remaining $42,000 of the funding is being distributed as grants to support local nonprofit arts organizations.
“Burlington County is known for its natural scenery and history, but we’re also proud of our county’s vibrant and diverse arts scene,” said Commissioner Linda Hynes, the Board’s Liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation. “The arts are a big part of what makes our county such a wonderful place to live and raise a family, and our Board is pleased to support the arts both with our own programs and exhibits and by distributing these grants.”
The $42,000 in grants were awarded by the County based on recommendations by a peer panel within the County Division of Parks and will support a variety of activities and programs, including general operations, advertising, special exhibits, classes and performances.
The Board of County Commissioners voted last Wednesday to approve the panel’s recommendations for the following grants:
- Bridge Players Theatre Company, Burlington City: $5,000 for general operating support for the 44-year-old community theater group.
- Burlington County St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Mount Holly: $1,000 for advertising to promote the annual parade focused on Irish heritage and traditions and local community spirit.
- Faith in Action, Willingboro: $5,500 to support performing arts training programs, including tours of performances concentrating on social change and awareness on issues such as bullying, inclusion, history and substance abuse.
- Lyceum Studio of Fine and Performing Arts, Burlington City: $5,500 to support programs to provide musical and theater training for youth through classes, camps, workshops, private lessons and performances.
- Medford Arts Center, Medford: $5,000 for general operating support for the center and its programs, classes, exhibits and events.
- Sevicios Latinos de Burlington County, Westampton: $5,500 to support the organization’s annual Latino Festival and Hispanic Heritage Celebration featuring food, music, folk dance and health screenings.
- Underground Railroad Museum, Eastampton: $2,000 to support marketing of the museum located at Historic Smithville Park, as well as a musical event and lecture featuring an artist or civic organization.
- West Jersey Chamber Music Society: $5,000 for general operating support for the organization, which produces classical music concerts.
- Whitesbog Preservation Trust, Pemberton Township: $5,000 to support the trust’s plans to host a Pinelands Music Festival and arts workshops.
- Willingboro Arts Alliance, Willingboro: $2,500 for general operating support for the organization and its classes, exhibitions, open studios and events.
Hynes said the grant funding comes at a critical time since many of the organizations have struggled financially due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Most every industry has been impacted by COVID-19, but the arts world has been hit particularly hard,” said Hynes. “That makes these grants that much more important, and many of these organizations are important parts of our downtowns that help draw people to shops and restaurants in our business districts. By supporting the arts, we are helping to maintain the high quality of life in our communities.”
In addition to distributing the grants, the County has its own lineup of arts programs and performances planned for 2021. Some programs are being held virtually to protect public health and safety during the pandemic, but some activities – such as the art exhibits at the Smithville Mansion Annex and Workers House Gallery at Historic Smithville Park and the Warden’s House Gallery in Mount Holly are in-person with social-distancing guidelines in place.
Exhibits on display this month include a retrospective on the African American experience by renown artist Joe Speight at the Annex, an exhibit of quilts at the Workers House Gallery and a photography exhibit by local artist Michael Anthony at the Warden’s House.
The Workers House Gallery at Historic Smithville Park regularly hosts arts exhibits, along with the Smithville Mansion Annex.
The Burlington County St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers also received a grant to help promote the annual parade in Mount Holly. Participating in the 2020 parade were Burlington County Sheriff Anthony Basantis, County Commissioners Dan O’Connell and Lynda Hynes and County Administrator Eve Cullinan.