Facility will get county funds to further its volunteer-enabled mission
At the core of the Medford Arts Center is a heartwarming tale of creativity and community, a nostalgic reminder that by working together to build relationships through creative expression, anything is possible.
“The Medford Arts Center’s sense of community is wholly made possible by our volunteers,” explained Ryan Walsh, vice president of the facility.
“We are operated completely and solely by volunteers, who in part are members of the community of Medford and artists everywhere,’” Walsh added. “Medford Arts Center doesn’t ‘sense’ the community so much as we are the community.
“We are a cloth woven by each and every thread of our volunteers, without whom we simply could not exist.”
Along with the need for volunteers is the center’s reliance on generous donations and grants.
“The supporters and donors are the epicenter of keeping the Med Arts community growing,” Walsh explained. “Special events bolster individual charitable contributions, as well as artist memberships; sales from our boutique at the center; and, of course, grants awarded from both local, county, state and federal programs.”
The center was one of 16 different nonprofits that received a piece of $152,000 in county funding last month, after commissioners voted to approve the distribution of what are called local arts grants. The funds come from the New Jersey Arts Council and are intended to support visual and performing arts in each of the state’s 21 counties.
Burlington will also use $100,200 in state funding to sponsor arts programs, exhibits and events through its parks system.
“Burlington County is known for its natural scenery and history, but we’re also proud of our county’s vibrant and diverse arts scene,” Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson noted.
“The arts are a big part of what makes our county such a wonderful place to live and raise a family, and our board is pleased to support the arts with our own county programs and by distributing these grants.”
Out of the $152,000 in funds, the Medford Arts Center received $11,000 to “further advance the success of the facility.”
“Medford arts is a small, non-profit, community-based center,” Walsh pointed out. “To support our community with art-based programs, we rely on outside funding to support the expenses of organizing; hosting; and promoting our events, shows and exhibits, and ongoing art programs.
“Outside funding is also essential to pay for the cost associated with educators, artistic materials and supplies, day-to-day operations and long-term community goals,’” Walsh added. “With the enormous help of this funding, the Medford Arts Center can continue to grow and foster our local artist community by offering what we’ve always offered: top-notch programs, exhibits, classes, and events.”
It is the commitment to the community that was the foundation for the center in 1998, when the Medford Arts Center advisory board and The Friends of the Medford Cultural Arts were formed to raise funds and create programs for the arts in the township.
The two groups became one, and in June 2009, the Medford Arts Center opened its doors at 18 North Main St., the heart of Medford Village. In September 2018, the center moved to 8 North Main St., an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant building with entrances on North Main Street as well as a ramped entrance next to the Medford gazebo, according to the center website.
The one-story building has one main gallery and performance space and a secondary gallery space that houses a gift shop, two classrooms, a private office and kitchen space. The entire facility was remodeled in 2018 to be more conducive to the center’s visual, performing and literary events and classes during the year. The facility is also available to rent for special events.
With all that said, the center’s mission in 2023 remains “as important and critical as it always has: To create an environment where arts flourish by education, evolution, and empowerment through the arts,” Walsh noted.
Medford Arts Center offers other activities and events, such as the Art, Wine and Music Festival, spring and fall festivals, an online poetry gathering once a month, and a United Through the Arts program online.
For more information, email Info@MedfordArts.com, call (609)-654-6033 or visit www.medfordarts.com.