What's in a name? For members of , means a streamlined approach to what has now been 40 years of serving what was originally seen as an arts-starved region.
Announcing its 40th anniversary kickoff on Jan. 24, the Arts Council of the Morris Area heralded its new name, new strategic plan, new logo and new mission at a gathering of nearly 100 at its 14 Maple Ave. headquarters in Morristown.
Board President Alan Levitan and Executive Director Tom Werder shared some of the history of the organization, which was formally incorporated on May 10, 1973. Established by the Junior League of Morristown’s Arts Steering Committee in response to a scarcity of arts organizations and cultural activities in the area, the Arts Council received seed money from the Junior League of Morristown and from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, to establish a new organization “which plans to promote all art forms through service to cultural and artistic groups and individuals in the community. The area to be served by the Council includes Morris County and parts of Somerset, Union and Sussex counties.”
Its “Charter Members” featured leading corporations, foundations and a large number of cultural organizations (from schools to museums, theaters to symphonies, arts organizations, choral and dance organizations and even the Morris County Park Commission). These, along with many committed individuals, supported the fledgling efforts of the Arts Council.
According to a press release issued for the anniversary kickoff, some of the examples of the impact the Arts Council has had over four decades include: Local Arts Grants which, over the years, supported over 1,000 arts organizations; Arts in Education programs enhancing learning for nearly 100,000 K-12 students in public, private and parochial schools each year; Free exhibits at two galleries, which showcase over 1,000 artworks by nearly 300 artists annually; 21 years of artistic programming for First Night Morris County, bringing over 6,000 artists to perform for nearly 200,000 people; Music Without Borders, which attracts over 1,000 people each summer to free lunchtime concerts that feature world cultures, broadens tastes and connect diverse segments of our community; Third Saturdays at Morris View, bringing monthly performances to the elderly and infirm; Scholarships for talented young people to pursue their artistic dreams; and a mentoring program to shepherd high school visual arts students to the next phase of training.
"Now, in its 40th year, the Arts Council approaches the next step in its evolution as an organization, with a recently completed strategic plan, a newly refined mission statement of engaging and building community through the arts and an updated identity, complete with new logo and the streamlined name of 'Morris Arts,'" according to the press release. "And so, with a sense of renewed mission and purpose, Morris Arts begins its journey toward the next 40 years."
For more information, including the complete press release, visit www.morrisarts.org.