Thanks to the generosity of the re- grant from Camden County Cultural & Heritage Commission as well as several sponsorships from Voorhees Township, Voorhees Citizen’s Event Foundation, The Wawa Foundation and other Voorhees businesses, the Voorhees Arts Council continued to thrive in 2020. Despite Covid-19, VAC provided many diverse art programs and activities to the community and sharing its rich art diversity in the gallery.
Continued Art Programs & Activities
• Art classes. We began the year holding ongoing weekly watercolor class and photography project one on one to dozens of students collectively. This effort was dormant for the Spring but resumed mid-summer. Approx. 60 community members impacted since they only ran for 2 months.
• Special Workshops. At the beginning of the year, we held fun topics like Art of Chocolate, and Stress Relief. And a series of miniature painting workshops that resumed in August. Approx. 200 community members impacted.
• Art Exhibits & Receptions. Monthly, with featured peer art exhibits were held in Jan and Feb, but then resumed on the Boulevard in July.
• We have 30 standing resident artists showing their work in the gallery representing incredible diversity. VAC has managed the Arts on the Boulevard Program showcasing the artwork rotating ~90 pieces of art seasonally in the vacant storefronts on the Blvd and in the VTC Mall. This program was pout on hold in the spring, however it was replaced by a program called “Exploring the role of the Artist During Uncertain Times” which is explained in a further bullet.
• Online Presence. Funding of 2020 also significantly supported ongoing updates on social media, with 1,392 followers and almost 2,000 post engagements in just the last month, eblasts to database of over 700, and the Voorhees Arts Council website so that the community is fully aware of what is being offered
Born of Necessity: Our Pivot During the Pandemic
• Online Exhibit Series: 10 weeks, 10 themes. In April, May and into June we hosted a weekly online exhibit with changing themes that invited all artists and anyone with courage of the community to participate and have an opportunity to win gift cards. This not only was a fun distraction, but it engaged the community, increased our VAC Facebook page “likes” by 20% and offered great art to view by talented community members to thousands of spectators. We reached over 1,000 people with this series.
• Ask the Artist. Ask the artist was a new program we created virtually, on zoom and Facebook LIVE, an opportunity each weekday for 5 weeks- 25 days- for the community to “ask the artist” how they create their art, with 25 guest artists sharing. This was at the height of the pandemic, in May and June, to give the community a nice distraction to the “lockdown” and we had an average of 15 people participating each day, 375 community members impacted.
• Class of 2020 Mural Project. In May of 2020, the Voorhees Township Committee “commissioned” the artists of Voorhees Arts Council to create a mural that honored the Class of 2020. A 198’ mural representing all stages of education and graduation rites of passage were on full display on the Boulevard wall by Macy’s. The wall has been visited by hundreds of graduates, from Vorhees and neighboring townships. And widely shared on social media. Approx. 500 community members impacted by this.
• Meet the Artists on the Boulevard. In July gallery artists began to show our work ON the Boulevard, while also creating art while there, in front of Iron Hill, on Thurs Fri Sat and sometimes Sun. The artists interacted with an average of 10 community members each evening, over a 12-week period; approx. 300 community members were impacted in a positive way regarding art.
• Exploring the Role of the Artist During Uncertain Times. This monthly art program – a conversation among approx. 12 artists-has generated thought provoking art on display in the Boulevard, in 3 vacant store fronts. The viewing public is countless. This IS what art in a community looks like.
• Healing Art for the Hero’s Heart. Mostly funded by the Wawa Foundation sponsorship, VAC created a partnership with the armed forces. Over 5 months this art program has impacted over 250 deployed service members and local veterans with hand-made art given to them by over 25 artists in our community. The true reach is not measurable. The level of gratitude and benefit of this program is also immeasurable. We have received incredible recognition.
• Monthly Miniature Painting, Zentangle, Adult Coloring, Yarn Gathering are just some of the monthly reliable predictable programs we were able to resume in September and give to the community, largely free or low cost due to funding and connecting responsibly (with social distancing and mask wearing) About 100 people were impacted positively with these programs.
• Virtual Voorhees Art Museum. With over 120 people impacted, this tour of the virtual art museum, with 3 exhibits of almost 90 pieces of art featured by 30 artists, was an incredible interaction with the community.
• Holiday Story Boards- our amazing artists created 5 holiday storyboards that give the community an opportunity to take selfies/photos and post to social media. This has impacted 100s. It is the work of about 10 artists.
• Elf on a Shelf Photo Contest- this opportunity for Voorhees Residents brought holiday joy to many, with 8 entries and reaching over 1,900 people and 300 engagements on Facebook.
All this programming, exhibiting, and celebrating has led to the Voorhees Arts Council and its artists serving and impacting over 2000 people in our community with this funding providing over 100 art activities/events. Art is Alive in Voorhees.
Prepared by Marianne Leone, Co-Chair of Voorhees Arts Council & Executive Director of Voorhees Arts Center & Gallery. January 4, 2021.