By Steve Sears
ValleyArts, a non-profit creative community organization that resides in the Valley Arts District, encompassing 15 blocks in Orange and West Orange, offers creative community, youth programming, creative entrepreneurship, art shows, music programming and much more.
“Straddling two townships is a really positive position to be in. It allows us to draw from the talents of both towns, offer creative programming for both towns and have two populations as potential audiences,” says Jeremy Moss, Executive Director of the ValleyArts.
For Moss and ValleyArts, challenges are many. “ValleyArts opened the artfullbean cafe to become a creative thought space. It has also allowed us to meet many of the constituents who live in both of the towns, in a warm, welcoming, creative atmosphere. There are challenges though. Making sure we are inclusive of all has always been a priority, though outreach to everyone has its challenges. Working with different municipalities and Boards of Education can bring challenges to our table too. One of our biggest challenges is that we do so much with such a small staff, and we have to be mindful of not biting off more than we can chew! Finally, in the ever increasingly competitive hunt for funding, fundraising is our number one challenge we face. We always welcome support, whether it be donating, becoming a member, attending our events or volunteering.”
ValleyArts underwent a remodeling in 2016. “We are situated in a former derelict warehouse that was repurposed to include artist live work spaces. It also formed a quadrant with the existing buildings that houses galleries and artists. Two years ago, ValleyArts recognized it needed to change the way it did business. The reception area and front office were remodeled, with money from grants, into the artfullbean cafe and boutique. It was a transformative moment for Valley Arts.”
As spring arrives, many nice things are happening. The Creative Community Workshop series, which will include cake decorating, block printing, musical instrument making, beading, yoga, and self-expressionism, will be offered for adults and children. Registration will open soon, and you can support this and all ValleyArts programs by donation, attending events, purchasing items from the café/boutique, and by registering for workshops. Second Saturdays will return in the spring to the artfullbean café, giving acoustic musicians opportunities to perform before an appreciative audience. ValleyArts is also currently working on a First Sundays music program to the Community Gallery, which will be an intimate concert series.
Also, launched in January was the ValleyArts sound booth, the ‘Listening Post’, a soundproof booth that can used for podcasts, voice over and narration, and is available for rent by the hour or day.
ValleyArts is located at 400 South Jefferson, #10 in Orange. For more information about all they offer to the community and how you can get involved, call (862) 252-7035 or visit www.valleyartsnj.com for more information.