Executive Director Mark Packer to Leave Appel Farm

(Elmer, NJ January 9, 2013) It was today announced that long-time Executive Director Mark Packer has resigned his position at Appel Farm Arts & Music Center. Packer’s 29-year tenure leading the renowned arts center has been remarkable for the many accomplishments and advances that can be credited to his vision. Literally, hundreds of thousands of people of all ages and from all walks of life have engaged in the arts at Appel Farm, or through an Appel Farm program at an offsite location in the past three decades.

Packer joined the staff of Appel Farm in 1984. From 1985 through 1987 he served as the Summer Arts Camp Director and in 1988 became the Executive Director. Since then Appel Farm has presented a concert series in its theater, and a nationally renowned outdoor Arts & Music Festival that has seen such luminaries as Jackson Browne, Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Indigo Girls, Richard Thompson, Arlo Guthrie, Janis Ian and many others grace its stages. The concert series was moved to the Landis Theater in Vineland in October, 2012.

Under his leadership camp enrollment expanded and tuition assistance program was enhanced. Now, nearly 25% of young people come to the residential arts camp with some kind of assistance. Education programs in regional schools, nursing homes and community centers have brought artistic experiences to thousands who would not normally have access to the arts. In addition, Appel Farm now runs the Arts Academy programs in Theatre, Dance and Visual Arts for the Salem County Vocational Technical School. Numerous permanent installations of decorative mosaic works can be seen in buildings throughout the region, and two large-scale murals in Bridgeton and Vineland were recently completed, much to the delight of residents.

Packer’s achievements in improving the facilities at Appel Farm have also been legion. Over $2,000,000 was raised to build new dormitories and other buildings for the summer camp, and the Art Barn is more welcoming to the summer students due to a new HVAC system recently installed. Plans for a solar array on the 176-acre campus are well underway and will help with sustainability efforts. In 2009, property on the north side of Appel Farm was purchased and preserved in the state’s Green Acres conservation program.

In 2010 Appel Farm Arts & Music Center celebrated its 50th anniversary.

“In so many ways, what Appel Farm is today is a testament to Mark’s leadership, drive and dedication,” said Appel Farm Board of Trustees president David Manders. “To many people, Mark Packer IS Appel Farm and we will miss him greatly.”

He has played a major role in regional and statewide arts organizations including the South Jersey Cultural Alliance, which he founded in 1992, and ArtPride New Jersey, where he has been a Trustee since 1988 and President (2006-12). He co-founded the Arts & Business Partnership of Southern New Jersey and was honored in 2002 as the recipient of ABP's annual Art Partner of the Year. In 2009, Packer received the Lillian Levy Standing Ovation Award from the South Jersey Cultural Alliance for his outstanding service to the nonprofit arts community of the region and the State of New Jersey. He has served as a consultant, mentor, and panelist for numerous organizations and individuals, including the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Gloucester County Cultural and Heritage Commission, and the G.G.Green Redevelopment Project.

Packer and his wife, Laura Aden Packer, will be relocating to northern New Jersey where he has accepted a position as Executive Director of the South Orange Performing Arts Center.

About Appel Farm
Appel Farm Arts and Music Center, 457 Shirley Road, Elmer, NJ 08318.
Appel Farm Arts & Music Center is a non-profit regional arts center serving audiences, artists, and students. Programs include an overnight summer arts camp, concerts, family matinees, a major outdoor music festival, and classes for children and adults, outreach in New Jersey public schools and a conference center. More information about Appel Farm can be found at www.appelfarm.org or by calling (856) 358-2472.
These programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding sources include corporations, foundations and individual contributions by friends, Trustees and alumni of Appel Farm.


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