New Jersey State Council on the Arts
In the wake of shifts in federal funding for arts and culture, the New Jersey State Arts Council, like other state and territorial arts agencies, recently found itself facing an altered landscape. Anxious both to glean a sense of the new "topography" and to gain a measure of control over the situation, the Council turned in 1995 to consultants from WolfBrown for assistance in determining how to manage the volatile mix of forces stirred up by the funding changes, as well as to gauge other trends at work in the current environment.

The consultants began by facilitating a two-day retreat where trustees and council members discussed the situation and determined that some planning was in order — a statewide cultural plan, in fact. They also came to consensus on how to proceed, suggesting what areas deserved further inquiry and how to undertake that inquiry. They decided to convene a conference on the arts to gather additional information, ideas, and opinions, and raise the public profile of arts and arts issues in the state. The consultants were asked to staff the conference's design and execution. Governor Christine Todd Whitman opens Arts in Focus III: The Governor's Conference on the Arts in Trenton late the following September. More than 450 New Jersey business leaders, educators, artists, arts administrators, and special guests attended the three-day series of panels, workshops, and plenary sessions that were enlivened by performances by state artists and underwritten by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and a consortium of 20 corporate funders. The perspectives offered by those both inside and outside of the arts generated a comprehensive planning framework and a vision for cultural life in New Jersey beyond the millennium. The broad participation also developed a coalition that could be called upon in implementing the plan.

Following the conference, the consultants published a draft and conducted a series of interviews and focus groups to refine the ideas and lines of thinking brought forth at the conference. Then the consultants produced a final plan — one that would, as keynote speaker and U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass suggested, spur "the economy of the gift and the imagination that makes communities, that give them richness, that gives them bond."

Go to