"We Are More Powerful, Secure, And Vibrant Together"

 Judy Sirota Rosenthal Photo. 

Judy Sirota Rosenthal Photo. 

The following remarks were given by Arts Council Executive Director Daniel Fitzmaurice at the Arts Council's 54th Annual Meeting.

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Daniel Fitzmaurice and I’ll be your captain this afternoon. On behalf of the entire crew, welcome to the 54th Annual Meeting of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

At this time, make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position and that your seat belt is correctly fastened. Also, your portable electronic devices must be turned for lots of social media posts during our flight.

If cabin pressure should change, panels above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks; reach up and place it over your nose and mouth. Please secure your own mask first before helping others.

You will find this and all the other information about this Arts Council in the card located in the seat pocket in front of you. We strongly suggest you read it before take-off. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our crew members. We wish you all an enjoyable meeting.

What a year we had in the world and in our community. I am overwhelmed at the turnout to celebrate the past and upcoming work of this Arts Council. Thank you for joining us.

Before I move on I really want to thank to Nadia "Navi" Gaskins from our Youth Arts Journalism Initiative for opening, Sanctuary Kitchen, Rock the Beat D.J. Camp, Black Hog Brewing Co, and OddBins for being with us tonight.

I also want to thank this Arts Council team – our staff, Board, anyone who has cheered for us this year. Last year I wrote haikus for everyone on my team, including a welcome to Lucy Gellman our new editor for the Arts Paper. You’ll be happy to know that I did not write them more haikus for them this year, but in this past year two interns have become part of our family and deserve one. The first is Stephen Urchick, who will be returning to his doctoral studies in the History of Art at Yale this fall. 

Brainy but humble
Please don’t totally leave us
YAJI superstar

The second is Noah Barnett, headed to University of New Haven later this year. Noah has been working hard on Make Music New Haven. 

Always working hard
You should never doubt yourself
Let’s Make Music soon

I also wish to acknowledge the recent and sudden passing of Bill Reese, a profound collector of rare books collector for over 40 years at his business on Temple Street, and Stacy Phillips, an iconic genre-bending musician with both international acclaim and deep local roots.

One year ago at our annual meeting, I presented a bold vision for the direction of this Arts Council. The reality is, we were still experiencing some turbulence. So, we tightened our seatbelts, secured our own oxygen mask, and worked hard to change. One year later, I am proud to report that the Arts Council is more stable than ever.

  • We adopted a three-year strategic framework and secured support to implement our vision.
  • We doubled down on our strengths with the Arts Awards and the Arts Paper to broaden our creative network, connect our region together, and fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our sector.
  • We recruited new Board members; you’ll meet some later in the program.
  • Most importantly for our sustainability, we moved our offices across the hall, doubling our annual rental income.

There were also times this year when our tray tables were in full upright position and we took flight.

  • We started a monthly creative networking event called The Commons, which attracted hundreds of attendees at throughout New Haven.
  • We launched the first annual Make Music Day in our region, which will host over 60 free concerts and special musical events all day on June 21.
  • We designed the Youth Arts Journalism Initiative, training and publishing the words of 9 high school artists. Their work is featured in the last print edition of the Arts Paper this summer.
  • We hosted important conversations about workplace harassment in the arts and creative activism in the LGBTQ community.
  • We launched Create the Vote, a statewide nonpartisan initiative to elect a governor who believes and invests in the power of the arts to strengthen our state.
  • We redesigned our brand and rebuilt our website as an online arts hub for artists, creative enterprises, and audiences in our community.

My favorite part of every flight is when the captain turns the seatbelt light off. It makes me feel safe. Plus I can finally stretch and enjoy a tiny can of tomato juice. This is the phase we are entering as an Arts Council next year.

In addition to continuing our new initiatives thus far, the reimagined NewHavenArts.org will become your go-to bookmark for cultural events, arts journalism, and creative resources. We will break ground for renovating our new offices, including a community venue that will become your go-to destination for meetings and events.

But the most significant evolution for this Arts Council begins today with the official launch of our Free Membership program. Feels good to finally say that out loud in front of you.

The foundation of this shift is our belief that art, culture, and creativity are fundamental human rights. As such, all of our benefits and service are now free for individuals, empowering them to grow, connect, and, most importantly, belong in our creative community.

Our goal is to connect with 20,000 Free Members by 2020. But don’t expect the usual suspects. This goal is about building a pipeline for emerging creatives and new audiences that will strengthen, deepen, and diversify our creative ecosystem.   

We will continue to seek investment in the form of sustaining membership from creative enterprises, like arts groups, nonprofit organizations, creative businesses, libraries, and schools. We have some additional benefits to say “thanks” for their support!

Starting now, everyone is invited to join this Arts Council. Beyond this open invitation, we will work hard this year to earn your trust. Please continue to hold us accountable so that together our artists, organizations, patrons, volunteers, students, and audience members can thrive in our community.

Did you know it’s statistically much safer to fly in plane than drive your car? Riding a bus or train is also safer than driving alone. There are many different reasons for this, but what fascinates me is that planes, busses, and trains physically bring us together. Similarly, free and sustaining membership brings us together. Everyone might have their own seat and in-flight entertainment, but we are more powerful, secure, and vibrant together on this plane we call the Arts Council. I hope you enjoy the flight with us this year!