June 8, 2016

Nathanson to Leave As Arts Council Director After 11 Years at Helm

1NathansonJeff Nathanson will be stepping down as executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) at the end of 2016, the ACP announced yesterday.

The Arts Council on Witherspoon Street has experienced a significant transformation in the 11 years since Mr. Nathanson took the helm in 2005.

“Jeff successfully led the Arts Council through an exciting time of tremendous growth for the organization,” stated Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert. “He’s been an effective and effusive champion for the role of the arts in building community. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him, and am very sad to see him move on.”

ACP Board of Trustees President Ted Deutsch echoed the mayor’s praise, describing Mr. Nathanson as “an outstanding leader not just for the arts community, but for the Greater Princeton community as a whole. His in-depth experience in arts program development and management helped the organization dramatically expand and improve its arts-related offerings over the past decade. At the same time he has kept the ACP focused on its historic mission to serve the local community through free, accessible and inclusive events and scholarship programs for children and families.”

Before taking charge of the Arts Council in 2005, Mr. Nathanson led the International Sculpture Center at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton and served as guest curator and project manager for the Princeton University Art Museum, International Schools Services and the Princeton Public Library. He also plays guitar with the Band Box project, a fusion of jazz and rock with a heavy dose of world influences and has played locally with Minister William Carter’s gospel group.

In an interview with Town Topics last year, Mr. Nathanson stated that the high point of his ten years at Arts Council was the ability provided by the new building, constructed during the first years of his tenure, to offer more to the community. “The ACP is at a whole other level from where it had been, with new marketing strategies and increased outreach and partnerships, more classes, concerts, and exhibitions. And every year since we reopened we’ve received a citation of excellence from the NJ State Council on the Arts and a Governor’s Award in 2011.”

During Mr. Nathanson’s 11-year tenure, the ACP has more than tripled its operating budget to over $1.7 million; raised $10.5 million for renovation and expansion of its home in the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts; received citations of excellence and designation as a major arts service and presentation organization in nine consecutive years, as well as numerous awards and recognitions for its exhibition and education programs; and quadrupled its free programming to serve tens of thousands of members of the community each year.

That programming includes: expansion of ArtReach, with free after school art experiences for over 125 area children weekly; expansion of the ArtsExchange program serving children through a partnership with HomeFront of Trenton; expansion of programs serving the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood; creation of a public art program, producing murals and sculpture projects in the community; creation of a performing arts program partnering with Princeton University Jazz Program, Princeton Symphony Orchestra and many others; expansion of the Communiversity ArtsFest; establishment of partnerships with the Princeton Public Library, Princeton University Art Museum, Morven Museum, Historical Society of Princeton and many other organizations.

Mr. Nathanson has also been a leader in the establishment of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Arts and Business Alliance and has received numerous awards for his work in the arts and arts education.

“It has been an honor and privilege to lead the Arts Council of Princeton through a time of dynamic growth and change,” Mr. Nathanson said. “I’m extremely proud of what we have achieved through the hard work and support of our staff, board, volunteers and donors during these past eleven years.”

He added, “The timing is right for me to move on to new challenges, and I look forward to helping achieve a smooth transition over the next seven months.” Mr. Nathanson was not available for further comment yesterday, but a year ago he had stated that he looked forward to a time when the ACP would reach a point of equilibrium and he might have an opportunity to follow through on some of his curatorial ideas and to make more music.