Local weekly paper covering regional news and events covers how a powerful arts and culture plan moves forward in Asbury Park, Independent Asbury Park Arts Council Leads The Initiative.

Powerful Arts and Culture Plan Moves Forward in Asbury Park

Independent Asbury Park Arts Council Leads The Initiative - TriCityNews Oct 6, 2022

ASBURY PARK — A group of some of the most effective arts and cultural leaders in the city are on the move with the creation of an Arts and Cul-ture plan for Asbury Park.

This plan has the potential to multiply the cultural power and draw of our city. Funded by a recent county grant, the Asbury Park Arts Council (APAC) — an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization — is now embarking on the collection of input for the plan.

This newspaper understands the value of this project. A detailed Arts and Culture Plan can lead to more grant awards. If formally adopted by the city, it becomes a guide for policy decisions, including zoning decisions. The plan can identify various underutilized assets and determine how the city can maximize their effectiveness for the arts. And the plan can as-sess and make recommendations for arts and culture activities in various parts of the city, which may have different needs to serve.

“The Asbury Park Arts Council (APAC) works to support, advocate and promote arts-centric initiatives, businesses and development,” states the group’s mission statement. “Our primary goal is to ensure the arts are considered in municipal policy-making via the creation and implemen-tation of an Arts and Culture plan within the Asbury Park Master Plan.”

Also noteworthy is who’s doing all this. APAC was founded just before the pandemic in 2019. Implementing the Arts and Culture Plan was al-ways their top priority, among other goals. Now the recent county grant of $200,000 — for the plan and other initiatives — is making it real.

Here’s the APAC board: Parlor Gallery owner Jenn Hampton, former Show-Room owner Mike Sodano, Paul McEvily from Interfaith Neighbors, Para-normal Books owner Kathy Kelly, attorney and arts activist Bob Ellis, and Carrie Turner, formerly the General Manager of Madison Marquette’s boardwalk project.
All these people are recognized for their effectiveness and vision. Also crucial to APAC was Michelle Gladden, who was the initial part-time Ex-ecutive Director and got the group launched with various initiatives and grant applications which came through.

(Visit for more information on the Arts and Cul-ture Plan and the organization’s other goals and programs. In fact, here’s a timely example of one of their other projects: the “AP in 3” challenge where content makers are challenged to make a three-minute video or film in three days about Asbury Park, with prizes over $3,000. That starts Oct. 13. Info at

Board member Carrie Turner is now also serving as the acting Executive Director. Turner recently left a job in South Jersey, so she’s got the time flexibility to put in a full-time effort as Executive Director, which is a game changer. Turner is recognized from her work at Madison Marquette as one of the most effective administrators in Asbury Park, respected throughout the city. She’s could easily serve as City Man-ager one day if that position ever came open.

Turner moved to the city over a decade ago in 2010 after visiting it twice. Before that, she had worked in Camden, first for a non-profit affordable housing organiza-tion and then in the city’s redevelopment office. She then worked in Asbury Park with Madison Marquette up until a very amicable parting three years ago. Now, she’s back in the city working full-time for the Asbury Park Arts Council as acting Executive Director.

“I love Asbury Park,” said Turner. “I love the variety, the creativity, the warmth of the people really. I like that all the vitality is in these 1.2 square miles.”
Another recognized talent local to Asbury Park — planner Eric Galipo, who grew up in the city — has been retained as the planning professional to lead the devel-opment of the Arts and Culture Plan. APAC also coordinates with the city on this project, with an ultimate goal of the Arts and Culture Plan officially adopted as part of the city’s master plan. That will give it legal standing.

As part of the current information gathering phase for the plan, APAC has a survey you can complete on its website. You’ll also finds dates APAC representatives will be available at public events to answer questions on the plan and take input.

As an independent non-profit organization — although one that works closely with the city — APAC has the flexibility to accept and distribute private funds for various programs.
The Arts and Culture Plan is its biggest commitment. But now with the $200,000 county grant, and other smaller grants, APAC has embarked on other arts-centric projects. Those activities include financial support for public mural projects, finan-cial support for the Inspire Life program that provides a fine arts and technology camp for city youth, and the AP in 3 film challenge. Another potential project is a regular schedule of artist around the city’s Civil War memorial, a little noticed but beautiful statue on a small piece of land on Cookman Avenue at Grand Avenue.

In the meantime, however, watch for that Arts and Culture Plan. That’s the big story here.