Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Newark Arts Alliance Welcomes New Director, Dennis Lawson

Newark Arts Alliance Executive Director Dennis Lawson
Delaware Arts Info recently sat down with "newcomer" Dennis Lawson, the new Executive Director of the Newark Arts Alliance.  And, we say "newcomer" with tongue in cheek — Dennis has been a fixture on the Delaware scene for some time, previously holding a position at the Delaware Art Museum before leaving to complete an advanced degree.  Here's a little Q&A we enjoyed with Dennis upon his return to the Delaware arts world...

Welcome back to the area! What brought you back into the Delaware Arts Scene? 
Thanks!  I left my position as Manager of Public Relations at the Delaware Art Museum in 2010 to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing—something I’ve always wanted to do to become a better writer overall.  When I finished the degree, I hoped to get back into the arts.  It’s exciting to see how art can inspire people and enrich their lives. 

What are your immediate and long-term goals for NAA?
One of my immediate goals is to improve communication so the public knows what’s going on here, from our exhibitions and events to our classes and summer camp.  I want people to know this is a place where they can be creative, and I want artists to have their work seen.  We've already started to get our Literary Arts program off the ground, with a monthly Open Mic dedicated to Poetry, Prose and Performance, and new writing classes scheduled for April and May.

Long-term, I want to see the Newark Arts Alliance and the City of Newark as a whole be as successful and vibrant as ever.  I hope to build relationships with local businesses and organizations, increase our offerings to the community, and increase the number of NAA members as well as our levels of fundraising.

What would you say is the strongest asset of NAA? What (if anything) would you change or improve?

Our strongest asset is the great people who are involved as volunteers, artists, teachers and supporters.  The NAA has been going strong for 20 years, thanks to an incredible level of local enthusiasm!

One thing I would change is the perception that some people have of the NAA as a sort of invitation-only club—nothing could be further from the truth! The NAA exists for everyone in the community to be able to appreciate local art and find a creative outlet for themselves and/or their children. 

Here's a situation for you. Arts Patron: "I've never been to the Newark Arts Alliance and don't really know much about it." What is the one thing you would say to this person to draw them in?
NAA is where you can view and purchase art by local artists, and a welcoming location where you or your children can participate in any number of creative events and classes.  Come on in!
Who is your favorite renowned visual artist — living or dead, and why? Who is/are your favorite local artist(s)?
My favorite renowned visual artist would have to be Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whose Pre-Raphaelite paintings I discovered while working at the Delaware Art Museum.  His use of poetry helped invite a literary guy like me into his visual works.  And his Lady Lilith is the ultimate femme fatale!

My favorite local artist is my wife, who is quite a woodworker and painter.  But she tends to keep her creative works to herself.  I’ll get her to submit a piece to the NAA someday.

I also want to add that all of the talented local artists who submit works to our exhibitions and gallery shop, and all the great performers who get up in front of the room at our Open Mic, have my appreciation and respect!

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