The Professional Development Fund provides active NEP members with financial assistance to be used towards professional development opportunities. Funds can support skill-building workshops; regional gatherings and/or residency opportunities; organizational development and tools, as well as attending presenter conferences, showcases, or performances that require travel and incurred expenses.
Priority is given to new professional development opportunities for the applicant, and activities that offer value (direct/ indirect) to NEP membership and the arts community in New England at large. Priority is given to emerging arts administrators, cultural organizers, and leaders of color.
NEP members can learn more about the fund and apply for financial assistance by visiting the Professional Development Fund Application page. Log in is required to access this application.
Melissa Huber, Director of Artistic Planning & Operations, has been with International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, CT since 2003. Her duties include building and managing the programming budget, liaising between artists’ production and personnel needs and the Festival’s resources, as well as designing and implementing many of the Festival’s programming initiatives for families. As the Festival takes over the theaters, open spaces, and courtyards in and around New Haven, Melissa manages the transfer of artistic ideas into on-the-ground performances. She coordinates performance venues, equipment, schedules, and personnel to realize the visions of artists from all over the world and the greater New Haven region. Her work also serves to foster the growth of emerging artists and arts lovers in New Haven through the Festival’s Fellowship Program for high school students and community-centered Neighborhood Festivals.
IMPACT STATEMENT: I’m so grateful to receive the Professional Development Fund award from New England Presenters. This award will allow me to attend the 2024 TYA/USA National Festival & Conference for the first time. Though I have experience programming for families, I have yet to participate in any formal youth programming conferences. This event will help me deepen my knowledge of the field, expand my and the Festival’s network of artists focused on engaging young people, and learn from presenting colleagues about best practices for welcoming young audiences and their caregivers to performances.
Tyler Rai is an independent artist and producer. She has had the privilege of serving as company manager for Emily Johnson/Catalyst, Associate Producer with Arktype, and is currently Assistant Curator of Performing Arts at the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. Her works have been presented at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Governors Island, The Jewish Museum of Maryland, ARC Pasadena, Judson Church, SPACE Gallery, The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought. She is a member of the Creative & Independent Producers Alliance (CIPA) and is passionate about working with artists to realize their most expansive visions. www.tylerrai.com
IMPACT STATEMENT: The award from NEP made it possible to attend the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and its associated hubs where I was exposed to hundreds of new works from Philly-based, national, and international artists. I was able to develop new relationships with artists and prospect numerous community-based theatre and acrobatic works that I hope to integrate into future programming at the Fine Arts Center at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Joe Matovic has an extensive background and education in the arts, and has used this experience to help support other creatives in the field. A graduate from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), he has exhibited his work in several spaces and has served as both Committee Chair (Publicity & Marketing) and Associate Artist Member at the Norwich Arts Center. He has also worked for The Handel Choir of Baltimore and The Garde Arts Center, and has helped champion artists and their work by writing press releases and articles, mingling at fundraisers, installing exhibits, selling tickets and organizing the administration behind the scenes. Matovic currently works as the Assistant to the Director of Arts Programming at Connecticut College in New London where he helps in the coordination and promotion of the onStage Guest Artist Series, and serves as the Box Office Manager at the college’s beautifully renovated Athey Center for Performance and Research at Palmer Auditorium.
IMPACT STATEMENT: This award is enabling me to attend the 2024 APAP Conference in January. As someone emerging in a leadership role in the arts, this experience will help develop my skills in networking and arts programming. I will also be accompanying the event with a longtime member of APAP who has attended this conference for years, so this is a great mentoring opportunity for me.
JAMILA JACKSON, The Embodied Leadership Project
Jamila is a storyteller, dancer, poet and facilitator. Originally from the Bay Area, California, she attended Howard University for two years, received her BA from Hampshire College and her MFA from Wilson College. Through her organization, The Embodied Leadership Project, she approaches the work of social justice, leadership and decolonization from an embodied, trauma-informed and ceremonial perspective.
The core aspect of Jamila’s work is the integration of African Indigenous wisdom with Horsemanship. She states: “My work is rooted in invoking the ceremony of the community dance circle. This circle is an indigenous technology that engages rhythm, movement, storytelling and deep feeling to support a community to integrate, grieve, express and relate to trauma. Humans are not the only ones who know this technology, horses also engage in this ceremony with one another in their herds. Working with horses offers us the opportunity to understand the incredible power of the circle for cultivating freedom and reconnection to one another and the earth. They allow us to examine the unconscious impulses for domination and enslavement within ourselves and engage in a trauma-informed and non-predatory relationship to power. I believe that this possibility for love, leadership, freedom and connection is what Miss Primus and Miss Dunham were illuminating through their work and their legacy."
Jamila is deeply informed by Liberty-Based Horsemanship, Rhythms and Movements of the African Diaspora, Authentic Movement, Contact Improvisation, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, Active Listening, Poetry and Empathy-based storytelling. She has been performing, lecturing, teaching dance classes, leadership trainings and workshops at colleges, universities, schools, community centers and conferences for the past 10 years.
IMPACT STATEMENT: I feel honored and thankful to have received this professional development grant from NEP. I am in the position, as a community educator and co-founder (along with the Five College Dance Department) of the Black Women's Leadership Initiative at Five College Dance, to help to shift the discourse around dance toward a Black and Indigenous led, decolonized, trauma-informed and spiritually-rooted approach to the body as a means of reconnecting to self, other and earth. The work that I bring to the Initiative is rooted in a field of Somatics and Subtle Energy Studies that focuses on a trauma-informed approach to the emotional, somatic, and relational intelligent within African-rooted dance practice and the wisdom of horses. Through a mentorship funded by this professional development grant, I have been able to deepen my research in the complex and subtle body-language and creative healing potential of horses to better support me in my work of sharing important and sacred knowledge with the community.
Holly Jones is a field based arts worker, advocate, and consultant who is passionate about arts accessibility, equitable curatorial practices, and trust-based philanthropy. She enjoys engaging and interacting with artists, students, industry peers, and arts patrons. Ms. Jones currently serves in joint leadership of The Clive & Valerie Barnes Foundation where her work is dedicated to the encouragement and recognition of outstanding emerging artists. Previously, Holly served as Associate Producer and Director of Artist Services at The Yard where she oversaw tremendous programmatic growth and professionalized operations in turn, supporting hundreds of artists in realizing their creative visions. Recently Holly has contracted with the New England Foundation for the Arts, CityStep, and The Croft where she will serve as Interim Executive Director for the 2021 season. Ms. Jones is pursuing her masters in nonprofit leadership at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice (anticipated December ‘21). She completed an Executive Certificate in Arts and Culture Strategy through National Arts Strategies and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.F.A. in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College. Holly continues to perform, teach, and choreograph throughout New England and New York.
IMPACT STATEMENT: The New England Presenters Professional Development Fund aided in my tuition to attend a class titled, “Leadership: Designing the Future” through the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy & Practice. This funding and course came at a pivotal moment in my professional career as an arts curator and has encouraged me to lean in to discomfort, embrace the unknown, and always take the leap of faith. Residing in a state of not knowing has become normalized and the only way to move forward without repeating mistakes of the past. In thinking more broadly and outside of the box on what traditional leadership/followership looks like, I have expanded my perspective tenfold on what it means to be an arts economy worker with a focus on cultural equity during a particularly fraught time in our history. The class has focused on developing greater interpersonal skills while observing group organizational dynamics which enables me to function better in the current environment where human connection can be elusive. I am incredibly grateful for NEP’s support and look forward to sharing my findings with colleagues in the field!