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Newark Arts Appoints Felicia A. Swoope as General Manager

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originally published: 01/18/2022

(NEWARK, NJ) – The board of Newark Arts has appointed Felicia A. Swoope as the new Executive Director. Ms. Swoope, a former dancer and producer, has held leadership positions in major New York City arts organizations and brings to the table a range of administrative, artistic and programming skills. She was selected after a national search conducted by the Arts Consulting Group.

“Felicia’s background as an artist, administrator, producer, curator, and teacher makes her an excellent choice to lead an organization that serves over 60 arts groups, organizes one of the state’s most well-known arts festivals, and creates opportunities for success and prosperity -being of Newark- artists,” said Donna Walker-Kuhne, interim president of the Newark Arts Board of Directors. “As a strategic thinker, organizer and artistic collaborator, she will strengthen our many existing partnerships and forge new ones with artists, the business community and the community at large.” She added, “We would like to thank Regina Barboza for serving as an interim for eight months Executive Director served while we conducted our search.”

Most recently, Ms. Swoope has held two positions at Dartmouth College: Assistant Director of Admissions Recruiting for the Tuck School of Business, where she recruited MBA students with an emphasis on African American, Hispanic and Native American candidates; and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategist for Artivism, a digital platform created by Walt Cunningham Jr. for students and faculty to showcase their artistic activism.

Ms. Swoope succeeds Jeremy V. Johnson, who directed Newark Arts for five years before becoming one of the senior arts leaders in Northeast Ohio, the first President and CEO of Cleveland’s Assembly for the Arts. She will work closely with Newark Arts’ many champions and sponsors, including Mayor Ras J. Baraka, known nationally as “the Arts Mayor”; Fayemi Shakur, City Arts and Culture Director; and The Prudential Foundation, which has committed millions of dollars to art in Newark over the years.

“We extend our hand to Felicia Swoope as the leader of an organization that plays an integral role in promoting the arts in our great city,” Mayor Baraka said. “Newark Arts is a solid partner in the arts and culture sector. It led the development of the city’s community arts plan and serves as the financial agent for Newark’s Creative Catalyst Fund, the Harriet Tubman Monument and many community arts organizations.”

“Prudential congratulates Newark Arts on their selection of Felicia Swoope,” said Shané Harris, vice president of social responsibility and partnerships and president of the Prudential Foundation. “We recently awarded a multi-year grant to Newark Arts, which plays a key role in strengthening Newark’s resilient arts and cultural community. We look forward to working with her.”

“Felicia is a compelling spokesperson for the arts who has a deep commitment and extensive experience in expanding opportunities for artists and nurturing diverse new generations of artists,” said Peter Englot, board member and senior vice chancellor for public affairs and chief of Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s staff at Rutgers University-Newark. “As an artist and a proven arts leader, she is well placed to work alongside Newark’s artists, the City of Newark, the city’s arts educators, and supporters from all walks of life to further develop Newark’s arts economy.”

“I am truly honored to have been selected to lead an organization that serves Newark’s vibrant arts community,” said Ms. Swoope. “Newark holds a special place in my heart. Many celebrated artists have hailed from here, and many more are to come. Newark Arts proves that investing in the arts through partnerships and collaborations can enrich communities and fuel economic growth.” She added, “Representing many, but telling a story resonates deeply with me. BIPOC artists have traditionally been underserved, and Newark Arts is doing an excellent job of filling the gap.”

Ms. Swoope worked as a visual artist for dance companies including the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation and Battery Dance for 16 years. She even molded young talent in Newark. As the founding director of AileyCamp Newark from 2010-2011, she trained students at Newark Arts High and brought 100 dancers to the stage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She was Creative Campus Director of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance in Denver where she honed general managerial skills, produced events, directed the dance academy, directed the theater and worked with city government, schools, galleries and dance groups.

As the founding director of Gendarc Dance NYC, she produced and choreographed productions and created an artist-in-residence program on the West 50th Street High School campus. She was also Associate Producer and Ombudsman for the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College, where she first performed professionally as an undergraduate. Ms. Swoope created an annual dance series called E-Moves for Aaron Davis Hall (now Harlem Stage) that brings together choreographers, performers, musicians and dancers of color to showcase their rhythmic visions and immerse the audience in a grand celebration of the draw movement and message . E-Moves, hailed as the Hall’s signature dance series, has spanned two decades. She received her bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a master of fine arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently a board member of the renowned Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

The mission of Newark Arts is to power the arts to transform lives. Founded in 1981 as the Newark Arts Council, the organization has a vision to become a nationally recognized catalyst for the collaborative power of the arts in the city of Newark and urban America. Newark Arts is the producer of Newark Creates, a community-led citywide cultural plan created in partnership with the City of Newark. Key Newark Arts initiatives include Arts Education Newark, the ArtStart Community Scholarship Program and the Newark Arts Festival. Newark Arts is generously supported by Prudential Financial, City of Newark, M&T Bank, PSEG, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Victoria Foundation, Turrell Fund, Bank of America, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Verizon, United Airlines, Hanini Group, and individuals, corporations, and institutions.

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