A relative newcomer to Cherry Hill, Sheila Cummings calls herself a nurse practitioner, artist, educator and entrepreneur. Her most important role, which arrived by accident during this time of great stress on the local retail environment, comes as a facilitator between the art and business worlds.
One of the principals of Fox Paws — an enterprise devoted to affordable, sustainable, custom exterior renovations for home, garden or business — Cummings had lots of time to think how she could do her part to get people together while her company was on hold due to the ongoing pandemic.
Enter the Cherry Hill Artists for Good Collaboration.
“In thinking about ways to collaborate with different artists on different projects. I scoured Facebook, found some willing folks, and invited them to a meeting to discuss some projects. This was back in early March, just before things fell apart,” Cummings explained.
“Out of this, I realized that, on a neighbor to neighbor collaborative level, artists want to connect and are interested in having discussions about things. They also wanted to collaborate on community service.”
As the pandemic resulted in longer-than-anticipated time away from work, social engagements and the ability to meet in person, the tone of the conversation shifted.
The collective’s new intention, Cummings revealed, is to not only provide support among themselves, but to promote local businesses by featuring art inside interested locales.
“As we were all home in March and April, the idea came about on how to help each other out. It was really borne from the meeting, but coronavirus really gave us time to put the whole thing together,” she said.
“Cafe Flora is very interested, and wants to promote flower arranging as an art, so we plan on having a class there as soon as everything opens back up.”
The collective is also interested in holding additional gallery exhibitions, open mic nights, roundtable discussions, lectures and classes, as time and person power permits. It is also looking to put together an outdoor event, but a little bit later down the line when there’s enough outdoor seating for everyone to join and do so while following the rules of social distancing.
Cummings also noted that the collective is open to all creative individuals, of all ages, from across the region.
“Anyone is welcome. I just talked about Cherry Hill in particular, because several people involved live here, but we’re not restricting it at all. We’re looking to go less hyperlocal and open it up to regional,” she added.
“We’re also looking for opportunities to make a difference, like service projects that need an artistic touch. It could be high schoolers, college kids who just graduated and have an artistic talent of use.”
Through the toughest of times in the first half of 2020, Cummings remained reflective and hopeful that the new endeavor will catch on.
“It’s not despite the fact we’ve been through this collective trauma that people still want to do good, but because of it. All of this has made me stop and think about how I can do the most good and how I can change my life to do the most good,” she said.
All interested parties should contact Cummings at: firstname.lastname@example.org.