Retired Arts Administrator, Founding Director, and Lawyer Continues a Life of Service to Our City

Sandwiched between two major cultural hubs, the City of Trenton has, nevertheless, become the chosen home of many former New York and Philadelphia artists. We bring with us both our creative and professional administrative skills, volunteering our talents to expand the city’s cultural imprint, and to partner with Trenton businesses to encourage economic growth.

A few years ago, I was fortunate to have in my vast pool of talented volunteers, a former Director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts who was also an arts administrative director, lawyer, and actor; a long-time Trentonian who had moved here in a different era.

The first and only formal course I had taken in Arts Administration was from the late, renowned Boston press agent, Nance Movsesian. A 16-year-old college undergraduate, laser-focused on the performing aspect of the theatre, I hadn’t yet considered a future in the business side of show business. It turns out that Nance had, ironically, been an acting student herself at Herbert Berghoff (HB) Studios in New York City, where I later studied as well.

“Leland”, founding director of the School of Culture, Education, and Human Development of a prominent New York university, is a Trenton resident who joined other neighborhood enthusiasts as a volunteer Board member of many different arts and civic organizations; sometimes working fifty hours a week! Even as he gradually transitioned into retirement, Leland and his wife continued to sing in their local church choir for over twenty years, volunteering for its hospitality and food pantry services to the community. For decades, they have supported Trenton’s Passage Theater and other music and arts organizations with their time and donations.

In a New York Times article from 1973, Leland discussed, “the establishment of a partnership between (the New Jersey Council) and the State’s artists and business community.”

As corporate funding and business acumen intersect, artists are (encouraged) “to work with industry and business in order to develop better designs for all areas of everyday life.”

Artists have a long history of playing a critical role in the transformative and transitional phases of our major cities. Trenton artists who must work outside the city yet have chosen to live here, become part of its fabric, partnering with our businesses and volunteering their creative talents to “give back” to their adopted city.

Leland notes  that those who are unable to donate monetarily to nonprofits can still make a lasting impact on the community. “Volunteering increases self-confidence  and (a) sense of accomplishment.(It) helps make the city a better place to live…You learn valuable things about (yourself, too)”, he adds.

Are you ready to join the corps of Trentonian volunteers who meet behind the scenes in organizations all over the city to help plan, carry out and execute efforts to help our city thrive?

“Go to a (Board or committee) meeting with someone to be inspired!” encourages Leland, a shining example of the endurance of talent and dedication to community wherever you are planted!