September 16, 2020

Arts Council Interim Executive Director Passes Along Two Things in Particular

To the Editor:

I had the honor and pleasure of serving as the interim executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton for the past two years. It was a labor of love. However much I put into the organization, I received back so much more. To be a part of the team that does so much for Princeton and the surrounding communities, particularly the underserved, was thoroughly rewarding. Two things in particular that I learned that I’d like to pass along.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that in my 23 years of living in Princeton prior to being ED, I was not sufficiently aware of the history of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. The Arts Council takes very seriously its commitment to serve all the residents of this neighborhood and to respect the historical roots of our building as the Black YMCA and the neighborhood community center during the last half of the 20th century. In these times when many of us have committed to learning what we can about the roots of systemic racism, I’d encourage everyone to read I Hear My People Singing – Voices of African American Princeton by Kathryn Watterson.  It is bracing to learn why Princeton had been referred to as “the North’s most southern town” and to realize we all have plenty of work to do right here in our own backyard.

I also learned that, despite serving on the Board of the Arts Council for four years before taking the ED position, I still didn’t know the breadth and depth of everything that the Arts Council does. It is truly amazing to realize that each year a small, committed team produces multiple gallery shows; hundreds of arts education classes and camps; a diverse range of public events that draw thousands of participants (not to mention Communiversity); outreach programs that bring arts education and experiences to seniors, low income youth, neuro-atypical teens and adults, and hospital patients; and so much more. 

Princeton wouldn’t be nearly as creative or vibrant without the Arts Council. It deserves your support to keep it thriving.

Jim Levine
Linden Lane