Appel Farm Receives Two Special Initiative Grants

June 1, 2023

Appel Farm Arts & Music Center Receives Two 2023 Special Initiatives Grants from New Jersey State Council on the Arts

Appel Farm Arts & Music Center, located in Elmer, NJ, is the recipient of two 2023 Special Initiatives Grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

The first award, in the amount of $15,000, will support a new project piloting an arts-based resiliency and wellness program in partnership with Inspira Health Network. Healthcare providers are among the critical caregivers that have experienced unprecedented workplace stress and trauma over the last few years in the wake of the pandemic. With this pilot program, Appel Farm aims to use its decades of experience in arts education to further demonstrate the positive impact of the arts on a work environment still recovering from the long-term impact of COVID-19. The program will focus on playful learning and artmaking, fostering creativity and prioritizing moments of joy and connection to help strengthen community and social connections. Beginning in late Summer 2023, a professional teaching artist will engage a cohort of Inspira Health Network workers in  a multi-session workshop series of artmaking and actual play. 

Appel Farm will contract an outside evaluator to assist with pre-/post-surveys and other assessment tools to measure program effectiveness and impact. Key findings intend to show how arts learning and intentional play are positive tools in dealing with workplace anxiety and burnout; can help people better process their experiences; and can support adaptability, creativity, and teamwork. These results will be used to determine the interest in and feasibility of continuing the program with Inspira or other partner organizations in our region. Notable findings will also be shared with colleagues in the arts education community.

Appel Farm’s Executive Director, Jessica Doheny, says: “This program is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with and support a cohort of people doing important work in our community, deepening our commitment to positively impacting wellness in our region through the arts. We are so grateful to the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for making this pilot program possible.”

The second Special Initiatives Grant award is for $10,000 to support a Lifelong Learning Internship. With this funding, Appel Farm will hire a Special Events Intern for Fall 2023, whose primary responsibilities will be marketing and programmatic support for two annual events: the November Healthy HeARTS Festival and the December submission process for the regional Scholastic Arts Awards.

This internship project will provide meaningful professional development opportunities for a budding arts administrator interested in marketing, event planning, and arts education. The position will begin as early as August 1, 2023 and work part time through the end of November. This will be a paid opportunity, including compensation for time spent completing professional development webinars and modules as well as attendance at networking events with local arts and business communities.

With this opportunity, as with all work and volunteer opportunities at Appel Farm, the organization is committed to providing accommodations for an equitable, accessible, and barrier-free experience for the intern. In addition to a public job posting, Appel Farm intends to work with community partners to recruit potential candidates from our region, specifically organizations who regularly work with young people and families from underserved or historically marginalized communities.

Appel Farm’s Curriculum Director, Kristina Hill, notes that “Appel Farm is committed to providing ongoing access to arts education and workforce development opportunities for all members of our community interested in arts careers. We appreciate the support of the Arts Council to make it possible for us to host this internship.”

These Special Initiatives grants are made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. These initiatives represent Appel Farm’s ongoing efforts to be the arts education leader in South Jersey. Both projects are embedded in Appel Farm’s core values of safety, community, personal growth, and fun. These values foster creativity and enable us to better understand ourselves, one another, and the world, through the process of art-making.