Rutherford Arts Council
Submitted by Katie Pippin
Photo credits: Rutherford Arts Council
The Rutherford Arts Council has been busy since they formed last year. March saw the Arts Council receive a Proclamation from the Mayor and Council declaring March Youth Arts Month in Rutherford. Permission was also granted from the Borough for PrideFest, an arts and pride festival that was to occur in Lincoln Park on May 30th. Co-Sponsored by the Rutherford Pride Alliance, PrideFest was set to be Rutherford’s inaugural celebration of music, artists, performances, community, and pride. Because of Covid-19, the festival was unfortunately canceled. "After the success, RPA had with executing Rutherford's first Pride Flag raising last year, Rutherford Pride Alliance saw the need to continue the celebration in a larger way." says Rob Lyons, Chair of the Rutherford Pride Alliance, "We are excited to be able to collaborate with the Arts Council, as it seemed only fitting to combine Pride and the Arts for this family-friendly, community event. It's unfortunate that we needed to cancel due to the pandemic, but it gives us the opportunity to plan an even more exciting event along with the RAC."
Christine Weiss Beidel, an RPA member & PrideFest co-planner, states "I was so looking forward to celebrating Pride Month with the Rutherford community. It just makes me more driven to get rainbow crosswalks painted for next year's PrideFest!"
The RAC has worked with volunteers in town to create several works of temporary public art during the pandemic. Jim Dandy’s enlisted the Arts Council to paint an uplifting mural for their facade while they undergo construction after a devastating fire on May 13th. Brian Flynn, owner of Jim Dandy’s, “We greatly appreciate the help and support that you and others in the community provided this far!” The Arts Council organized a group of approximately twenty community volunteers to spend the following weekend painting while assuring all volunteers remained socially distant.
At the end of Rutherford’s Black Lives Matter protest in Lincoln Park on June 7th, the Arts Council collected protest signs from participants. Rutherford artist Melissa Schapiro contacted the RAC about doing an art installation with the signs. The Williams Center Board of Directors quickly agreed to let the Arts Council create a temporary installation using the lobby of the Center. On June 12th, a small team of volunteers hung the protest signs. “This exhibit is honoring the first Black Lives Matter march in Rutherford, NJ. on June 7th, 2020. The Rutherford Arts Council wants to thank all who donated their signs, as well as the Williams Center for the Arts for allowing us to use the space. We are looking to show off our community’s talent and generate conversations,” the RAC explained in a statement.
During the summer, the Arts Council has suspended meetings. The Board is using that time to draft and adopt its bylaws, organize a membership drive, and create a Master Arts Plan for Rutherford. Says co-founder Katie Pippin, “The Master Arts Plan establishes a framework for us to be able to work with the borough to acquire and conserve public works of art, art installations, and hold performances. It also lays out an ambitious plan to fund these projects in a way that doesn’t lay the burden of financing these projects at the feet of residents. Finally, it encourages high-caliber artists to contribute to Rutherford while compensating them fairly, which is really important to the Council.”
RAC meetings are held on the 4th Wednesday of the month at 7:30 pm from September-May. Membership is open to individuals and families in Rutherford and surrounding areas. For more information, check out their website.