Community partner spotlight: Arts Council of Princeton

To extend our community outreach, the library partners with many municipal, non-profit and business organizations that make Princeton such an extraordinary town.  This month Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) is in the spotlight. 

I have observed many things during this time of quarantine that surprised me, but perhaps the most surprising is how attached I have grown to the masks given to me by others. Perhaps it is the care put into each stitch, or the protection being offered, or the fact that in a time when we are dissuaded from touching, these masks can feel like a hug. All reasons why I am particularly enamored with the Arts Council’s initiative to ‘Sew Many Masks.’

ACP provided material and a template for people in the community to sew masks for others. Sewing masks has been a therapeutic outlet for many, providing something useful to do during this time. These masks have not only provided a creative outlet, but are also lifesaving. I have seen masks sewn by community members handed out all over town. Recently, I supported the work of various groups (Princeton Mutual Aid, Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, Unidad Latina en Accion) and handed out over 50 masks sewn by thoughtful members of the community. The masks were gratefully received by people picking up food, people who were walking to work without masks, people who had been wearing the same single use mask for too long, and even a person who drove up in the latest Tesla. This single initiative has had a huge and far-reaching impact.

The Arts Council of Princeton and the library share both a corner in town and a mission of building community. The ways that ACP and the library have partnered are as varied as the arts and literacies that we work to promote. We have worked with the Arts Council to feature the work of local artists in our galleries, and to give artists an opportunity to speak about their work and process. We have also worked together on many multiple partner projects, like the Parklet, because even though we go about it through different strengths, the focus of our work is always the communities we serve.

We spoke with Maria Evans, artistic director at the Arts Council of Princeton, to tell us more.

How long has the Arts Council of Princeton been in town?

Almost 52 years.

What is your primary area of focus?

We focus on building community through the arts.

Why do you like partnering with the library?

Our public library is an awesome place, our community’s living room, with a huge reach and fantastic programming. The ACP is always honored to partner with the library to build a stronger community.

 With whom do you work most in the community?

Hmmm … this is a hard one … we work with many other nonprofits, the University and other organizations on a very regular basis.

 What is something that you do that people might not know about?

Our Princeton Young Achievers creative art program on Fridays every week of school at the affordable housing sites and our weekly ArtsExchange program with Homefront, where students come for art making and dinner every Thursday.

Is there any project or event that you are particularly excited about at the moment?

Just today we installed a temporary mural on the corner of Witherspoon and Spring to boost us all during this difficult time of staying apart … “Stronger Together” is the mural which complements the town’s redesign of Witherspoon Street.

Photo credit: Melissa Kuscin

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