Saying she hopes to create programs that are multi-generational, Valerie Culbertson began her first days of work as the new Director of HealingNewtown through the Arts reviewing all of the artists who have donated their time in the past to lead workshops and performances. The year-long director position has been funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
HealingNewtown, created in the aftermath of 12/14, was developed by Newtown Cultural Arts Commission (NCAC) in conjunction with a team of local, regional and state arts leaders. The project is now fully managed by NCAC and housed at Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street. It offers workshops, art programs and events meant to strengthen and heal the Newtown community. Visit HealingNewtown.org to view upcoming workshops as well as to register for them.
The search for a new director of HealingNewtown began this past summer, after HealingNewtown learned of the NEA grant. NCAC conducted a national search for an executive director to lead HealingNewtown. The Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) requested the NEA funding to cover six months of salary expenses for the position.
Ms Culbertson is a native of Connecticut, having grown up in Derby. She remembers, she said, her maternal grandfather and Sheppard Hardware in Newtown and her uncle, Frank Kelley, who lived in Sandy Hook. She holds a BS degree from the University of Connecticut and an MFA from the University of Hartford/Hartford Art School.
She has two children, a daughter, Leah Gladstone, a pediatric RN at Yale, and a son, Calder, a college student.
She currently mentors students in drawing and painting in public and private schools and organizations. She is the former gallery director at The Silo in New Milford.
Looking at the past workshops, Mr Culbertson plans to enhance playwriting and experiences with playwrights and hopes to create workshops that stress collegiality and a participatory atmosphere. She counts more workshops in music and song writing as one of her goals and wants to build a structure for HealingNewtown that will evolve organically as the needs of the community change.
She also hopes to create workshops that will attract high school students and, has, in the past, run workshops that stress professional practices for prospective artists.
The public can meet Valerie Sunday, December 22, from 2 to 6 pm, during the NCAC and HealingNewtown 2013 Holiday Party. It will be in The Alexandria Room at Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street, and will feature arts, crafts, music, dance and performances.