A Creative City is a Profitable City

A Creative City is a Profitable City

The arts mean business in New Jersey’s largest city. On any given day or evening, Newark is bustling with cultural activity that appeals to art and music lovers of every kind. Government, corporate, and nonprofit leaders proudly connect this activity to jobs and money that is creating a more prosperous city.

Newark’s crowded galleries, standing-room-only festivals, and packed concerts are not only a fun time for residents and visitors, they’re good for the economy. Newark Arts, the city’s umbrella organization for all the arts, teamed up with the national research firm Americans for the Arts and conducted a year-long 2016 study, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5. It found that Newark’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates more than $178.3 million in annual economic activity, supports nearly 5,000 full-time equivalent jobs, and creates an additional $15.5 million in local and state government revenues.

Of the study, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said, “Communities that embrace arts and cultural education, activities and events are far richer than those who do not. Newark is a ‘city of the arts,’ where access to spoken word events, musical and dance performances, film, art exhibits, theatre offerings, museums and libraries add exponentially to our economic health. The impact of our commitment to the arts is felt in our communities, our businesses, our institutions, and our households, and it contributes to the revitalization that our city is experiencing. This report acknowledges the significance of our investment in this vital sector of Newark.”

Newark’s hometown artists are equally proud of the city’s cultural and economic boom. Tony Award-winning dancer, actor and entrepreneur Savion Glover said, “Newark has always been home. But also, it has always been an absolute cultural gem and the birthplace of so many talented artists. So I’m not surprised to see the incredible impact that the arts have on Newark as a whole and where we’re going as a city.”

Newark’s corporate community, which has long promoted local arts and culture, applauded the results of the study. “A thriving arts and culture industry helps local business and contributes to communities becoming stronger and healthier places to live. Based on this study, grant makers and corporations like Prudential should feel optimistic about continuing to invest in the arts,” said Shané Harris, vice president of corporate giving, Prudential Financial Inc., and executive director of The Prudential Foundation.

So know that when you take in a show, visit a museum or gallery, or experience one of the many entertainment options available in Newark, you’ll not only have a good time, you’ll be contributing to the economic vibrancy of one of America’s great cities.

Newark’s Newest Creative Spaces

The findings in the 2017 Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 study (AEP5) are evidenced by the number of arts and culture-related locations that have opened this year alone.

Express Newark, 54 Halsey Street (Opened in March 2017)

Located in the renovated Hahne & Co building, Express Newark is an arts incubator and provides video, photo, design and art classes. It was conceived by the faculty, staff and students of Rutgers-Newark and community arts leaders.

The Painters Palette, 97th Avenue (Opened in June 2017)

The Painters Palette invites you to “uncork your creativity” with painting classes and activities, such as Paint & Chew, Painting Party and Wine & Design.

Grammy Museum, 165 Mulberry Street (Opened in October 2017)

Located in the Prudential Center, the Grammy Museum -Experience will feature interactive music exhibits, public programs that include live performances, exclusive talks, and one-of-a-kind learning opportunities. It will even host your event.

Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street (Main entrance re-opened in November 2017)

The Newark Museum has re-opened its main entrance after closing it 20 years ago to keep temperature and humidity fluctuations from damaging centuries old paintings. An expansion of exhibit space now protects the art within and has enabled the re-opening.

DreamPlay Media Takes Video Up a Notch

DreamPlay Media Takes Video Up a Notch

DreamPlay Media is growing from its roots in filmmaking into marketing for the digital age. A six-year old creative media company with offices in Newark and Los Angeles, DreamPlay creates video content that helps organizations and companies expand their digital reach. To date, the company has more than 150 projects under its belt, counting the Consulate General of Portugal, the Ironbound Business Improvement District, and the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation among its clients.

The operation relies not just on creative storytelling but on advanced technology, as well. “We’ve helped create a market and mindset for cinematic storytelling,” says Igor Alves, who co-founded the company with his brother Yuri.

All clients and partners see is an expert execution of their message, but DreamPlay makes the magic happen with everything they do behind the scenes. They shoot B-roll (background footage) on SLR cameras with at least 1080 pixel resolution, and upload their raw footage to Adobe Creative Cloud for postproduction—to make cuts and edits, and optimize the video for various digital platforms.

“We use Vimeo in conjunction with Facebook and Instagram for original content distribution,” Alves explains. “The footage needs to meet different specs according to the network that it’s on.”

Everything from subtitles to cover images will vary based on platform specifications, and the team runs batteries of tests to make sure all their videos are optimized. The finished work is added to a continually evolving content library, where creative and technological progress is logged and tracked.

Alves hopes that sharing the stories they create online will draw a global audience. He wants to build a sustainable digital marketing model and form content distribution partnerships that go beyond DreamPlay. One project is already in the works.

“By early spring, our DreamPlay.TV series will be fleshed out and the site will be complete,” he says.

The DreamPlay team specializes in creating content that speaks to wide audiences and that works across all technological devices. The company’s overall goal is to create quality content—not just clickbait—that has significance and longevity.

“We want the storytelling to have meaning,” Alves says. “We want it to be something that we and the partners can stand behind.” 

Ask the Mayor – Winter 2017/18

Ask the Mayor – Winter 2017/18

As we look to 2018, we wanted to know from Mayor Ras Baraka what innovation should we expect to see in Newark for the new year.

What innovative ways are you addressing homelessness?

As winter comes to Newark, we recognize that we have a serious homeless population in our city, and that these residents—including veterans, victims of the foreclosure crisis, and the mentally ill—must receive our support.

We are planning to open and operate a city-run homeless shelter, with the help of Catholic Charities, to provide short-term solutions and assistance. For the longer term, we are working toward providing transitional housing built from converted shipping containers. These transitional accommodations will be completely off the grid, having their own water and electrical systems.

What’s new in the pipeline for affordable housing?

We are creating housing cooperatives run by residents. They will include artist and commercial cooperatives, and “infill” housing, which takes empty lots and small, open plots of land and turns them into housing. These projects will create new homes, end urban blight, and restore empty lots to the tax rolls.

What are you planning to do about the lesser known neighborhoods?

Recognizing that our city’s economic success depends not only on its downtown but also on its neighborhoods and their small businesses and families, we are moving to strengthen the economic power of the major commercial corridors in our neighborhoods. We are concentrating development on South Orange Avenue, Clinton Avenue, Bergen Street, Central Avenue, and Bloomfield Avenue, using eminent domain* to remove blighted and empty buildings and turn them into useful housing and productive businesses that will hire Newark residents.

This is development in and for our neighborhoods. It strengthens the lives and prosperity of Newark residents, attracts investment to our city, and continues to define Newark as the pioneer and leader in urban change.

*Eminent domain refers to the power of a state or the federal government to take private property for public use.

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