Archive for 2016

The Healing Power of Art at MD Anderson Cooper

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By Susan Bass Levin
President and CEO, The Cooper Foundation

In 1860, Florence Nightingale recognized the profound effect “beautiful objects” have on sickness and recovery.

mda-cuh-cci_int-01“Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by color and light, we do know this – that they have an actual physical effect,” Nightingale wrote.

Studies have confirmed Nightingale’s instinct. Infusing a patient’s experience with artwork can improve recovery and outlook. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, art can heal.

While the state-of-the-art clinical treatments at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper are saving lives, the thoughtfully curated artwork that adorns the Center’s walls is helping patients heal emotionally and spiritually.

We call this combination artful healing.

Throughout the Center, patients and families are surrounded by more than 125 pieces of art created by New Jersey artists.  The works have been meticulously curated to bring comfort and serenity during the challenges of diagnosis and treatment.

Many of the artists have a personal connection to cancer, and the sensitivity of their work plainly reflects this. As diverse in style, content and media as the images are, they share an empowering message of healing and hope.

For example, our collection includes several paintings by the late Alice Steer Wilson, who used her art to keep her going during her battle with breast cancer.

“Color was a tonic to my mother,” said Janice Wilson Stridick, Alice’s daughter. “She would be thrilled to know that her work is providing inspiration, hope, and gentle release for families during their journey with cancer.”

The collection also includes fiber art by breast cancer survivor Carolyn Shelby, who started quilting in 2011, a year before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As Carolyn went through treatment at Cooper, her quilting group cried with her, rejoiced with her and encouraged her.

“Cancer showed me that I am creative and that I can use my creativity to make a difference,” Shelby said.

sunriseOne of my personal favorites in the collection is a painting by Camden artist Jeff Filbert called Sunrise that hangs in the main lobby of the Center.

As an ovarian cancer survivor, I look at that painting and am reminded that even on the darkest days the sun will rise again.

That message of hope and healing is exactly what we want to convey to our patients and their families during their time at MD Anderson Cooper.

In addition, last year The Cooper Foundation launched our Artful Healing campaign to provide people an opportunity to show their appreciation for the healing power of art and support cancer care and research at MD Anderson Cooper.

Donations are recognized on our website or with an elegant plaque mounted adjacent to the artwork of choice.

The website also allows visitors to review the works of art throughout the Center, learn about each artist and enjoy their interpretation of healing and hope, choose a favorite piece and donate online.

At MD Anderson Cooper, we are proud to have created an environment that celebrates life, supports the Center’s extraordinarily gifted medical staff and brings tranquility to the brave patients and families who walk through our doors.

We have seen firsthand that being surrounded by beautiful artwork lifts the spirit. Art is a remarkably safe and effective medicine.

For questions about the Artful Healing campaign at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, please contact me personally at or 856.963.6703.



Susan Bass Levin is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Cooper Foundation, which serves as the philanthropic, community outreach and community development arm of Cooper University Health Care in Camden, N.J. Susan’s career spans more than 35 years in government service and law, as well as leadership in nonprofit and community organizations. Susan was the Mayor of Cherry Hill from 1988 to 2002, served in the Cabinet of three Governors as the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, and served as the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Susan is an ovarian cancer survivor and has always had a deep appreciation for the arts. 


Art and Death

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By Adrian Diogo
Intern, New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute

rose-de-polis-86-signs-400x300Would you rather spend your remaining days in a hospital bed or jumping out of an airplane with Jack Nicholson?

That is the premise behind the film The Bucket List, when two terminally ill cancer patients receive news that they have just a year to live. Ed (Jack Nicholson) and Carter (Morgan Freeman) become friends during their respective cancer treatments and embark on a journey to complete their bucket list before they “kick the bucket.”

As humorous as the film may portray death, for many New Jersey residents, death is a difficult conversation to have. Only 61 percent of New Jersey adult residents are comfortable with the thought of aging and end of life care, and 38 percent of New Jersey adult residents have not had conversations about advanced care planning, according to a Health Matters Poll conducted by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and the Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.

Advance care planning gives patients the power to decide on treatments and procedures they prefer when they are incapable of communicating their wishes. Advance care planning usually involves one of two documents: an instruction directive and/or a proxy directive.

coyl-logo-689x541The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute’s Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC) is a statewide health initiative in collaboration with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, providing mayors with tools and strategies to improve the overall health of their communities. Within the MWC is the Conversation of Your Life program that engages communities to begin conversations about advance care planning. With the generous support of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Conversation of Your Life has expanded to three New Jersey counties: Bergen, Camden, and Mercer.

Some municipalities are using the arts to promote advance care planning conversations within their communities. Hosted by beforeidie_final_webthe Perkins Center for the Arts and in partnership with Courier-Post and Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice, The Before I Die Festival is an interactive event filled with music, face painting, yoga, a magician, and… death! The Before I Die Festival is an interactive afternoon of conversation, information, an award-winning documentary, art, poetry, music and more that allows you to dabble, or jump in, to end-of-life conversations at your own pace. Its goal is to attract community members and promote advance care planning. This event provides plenty of emotional lubricants to ease the pain of end-of-life-conversations.

Through painting, sculpture, music, poetry, or any other form of expressive art, the difficulty of discussing end-of-life care can be relieved. Active arts participation provides people with opportunities to express difficult emotions in a non-verbal manner, which can be beneficial when discussing the logistics of death.

Having a discussion on your end-of-life care with family may be tough, but it’s important, especially if you want to complete your bucket list!

For more information on advance care planning, visit



Adrian Diogo is the Mayors Wellness Campaign Intern at the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. For more information about NJHCQI, visit He may be contacted at



Portrait of a Partnership: Municipalities & the Arts

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By Michael J. Darcy, CAE
Executive Director, New Jersey State League of Municipalities

monet-our-visiting-artistThe arts have brought of herd of painted oxen to the fields of Hopewell Valley, a mural to the wall of a city garden in New Brunswick, and Monet to Toms River — actually, a very realistic sculpture of the artist.

Throughout the Garden State, artists and the arts community have been welcomed by municipalities for their skills, the lessons they can share, and the beauty they bring to the streets, parks, and buildings around them. But opportunities abound for further connections between artists and local governments.

The League of Municipalities’ publication, NJ Municipalities magazine, has featured some very successful interactions between artists and communities over the years. These partnerships enhance daily life for residents while helping nurture creativity and beauty all around. We find that there are three primary ways for artists to connect with municipalities: enhancing public spaces, developing temporary and permanent exhibits, and providing education and arts planning for the community.

Everything Is Beautiful

Local officials understand that the arts are one of the keys to quality of daily life. Some have made great strides in welcoming artist—one municipality even allowed a herd of painted oxen to dot its fields and sidewalks.

The Hopewell Valley Stampede last year brought the beauty of 69 painted and embellished fiberglass bovines to town. After they were displayed for several months, the artwork was auctioned off to raise funds for the Hopewell Valley Arts Council.

Hopewell Valley’s public officials, businesses, and residents joined together to fundraise for the arts. As a bonus, the community enjoyed the work of a wide variety of artists exhibited all over town. Building a connection with local officials to generate buzz about the arts helped make this cattle drive a success.

Something to Think About

While it’s simple to fall back on the natural allure of sea and sand to please the residents and attract tourists, one Jersey Shore community ensured that there was a place for the arts, too.

a-herd-of-cloudsA Creative Placemaking Plan for Long Beach Township was developed this year through the cooperation of local officials, residents, business leaders, and artists with the goal of improving the local economy and quality of life. The team educated themselves about the local arts scene and learned about what the community has, what they want, and what they can be in the future by completing a Creative Assets Inventory.

One of the end results was the creation of the LBI Arts Council, a group whose mission is building the economy through the arts by supporting the development of local artists and galleries and encouraging residents and visitors to enjoy–and maybe even purchase–their creations.

Collaborative Efforts

From a community garden in New Brunswick to the outside wall of a café in Toms River, public art can improve the aesthetics of a town and bring its people together. While healthy living through nutrition was the primary aim of a community garden in the Hub City, a bright and vibrant graffiti-style garden mural creates a fun welcome to kids trying to determine if they might have a green thumb.

In Toms River, a local artist connected with residents in the creation of two murals depicting the town’s life and history. The artist provided guidance, but the community all pitched in with the concept and painting with more than 400 people picking up brushes to paint portions of the murals.

The town also provided a unique exhibit of sculpture in the downtown with the temporary presentation of 20 life-size bronze statues created by Seward Johnson. This is the second exhibit of public art, and represents the town’s ongoing effort to welcome artists as cultural treasures and potential economic boosters.

Combining artists’ creative efforts and municipal officials’ welcoming policies paints a rosy picture for the future of the arts in New Jersey.



darcyMichael J. Darcy, CAE, is the Executive Director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. The League’s 101st Conference will be held Nov. 15-17 at the Atlantic City Convention Center. For more information, visit


Arts Law Toolbox – Top Four Areas of Legal Concerns for Arts Non-Profit Organizations

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By Joey Novick, Esq.

image-settlement-law-justice-clip-art-caerleon-owod-filmvz-portal-klncgy-clipartOne of my many jobs when I was the Executive Director of the New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts was to work as “crisis manager” for the very many arts nonprofits that would call with issues on a daily basis.

Since the main job of an arts organization executive director  is handling day-to-day matters and putting out their own crisis ‘fires,’ I’d often get calls when all hell broke loose on a legal matter. I’d function as an Emergency Room doctor doing triage on their legal matter first.

However, I’d much rather have functioned as their regular doctor–a general practitioner whose job it is to prescribe a good diet, an exercise program, stress-reducing activities and healthy sleep habits.

Once I had learned that it was better to be a good medical doctor who keeps his/her patients in good health, I developed a key list of areas of legal concern of which all arts nonprofits should be made aware. The overall health of an arts nonprofit is very much reliant upon their overall legal health.

Here are  key legal areas for an arts nonprofit organization to keep in mind. Have your attorney provide a periodic  assessment of these areas–and save your organization from legal crisis management.

Arts Law Toolbox

1-Board Bylaws

Your organization’s bylaws are a vital tool to manage your organization. They outline the structure of your governing body, detail the responsibilities of your board of directors, and describe how board actions and amendments take place.

Updated bylaws protect both your board members, and the organization as a whole. Organizational bylaws should include such details as:

  • the duties of your executive board (president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer)
  • what constitutes a quorum for a meeting
  • how often your board meetings take place
  • whether actions can be taken without a meeting
  • the number of members on the board of directors, and the length of their terms
  • whether the organization will cover its directors’ legal costs in case of a lawsuit (“director liability”)
  • whether the bylaws can be amended by a simple majority, or a two-thirds majority

Once you’ve created your non-profit bylaws, you’ll have a better understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities, and can get down to business.

Your nonprofit’s bylaws are both a legal document and a roadmap for your organization’s actions. To be incorporated, an organization must have a set of bylaws. If your nonprofit decides to seek 501(c)3 tax exemption from the IRS, it’s much easier if you are incorporated, and incorporation requires you to set up all the legal requirements, such as bylaws, that the IRS requires when granting tax exemption.

Bylaws vary according to the nature of the organization but consider them as the internal manual for how your organization will operate. They should address basic activities, such as:

  • governance, such as whether the org is controlled by a board or by its membership
  • when and how board meetings will be held and conducted
  • how board directors and officers will be appointed or elected
  • voting procedures, such as what constitutes a quorum so that your board can make a decision
  • how committees are created and discontinued
  • number of directors for your board, their required qualifications, and their terms of service
  • language that affirms the requirements and prohibitions for non-profit 501(c)3 organizations as outlined by the IRS
  • rules that govern conflict of interest
  • how bylaws can be changed or amended

2-Independent Contractor vs Employee

For large nonprofit arts organizations, the choice to classify someone as an employee or an independent contractor can be reasonably simple. However, for smaller arts nonprofits with few or no staff, this decision can be confounding and perhaps a costly mistake.

While calling a new hire an “independent contractor” can save an organization a fair amount of money in taxes, benefits, and reimbursements to start off, that decision could possibly cost the non-profit organization enormous IRS fines — not to mention tax burdens for the employee.

The  basic and easy-to-use criteria for determining whether your newly hired staff member is an independent contractor or an employee is the IRS’s Factor Test, available at

These factors include criteria like what level of instruction will the person have and will they have a weekly, biweekly or monthly pay schedule. To be classified as an employee, a new hire only needs to meet a few of these many factors. The IRS explains that these factors fall into three categories that provide evidence about the degree of control and independence the new hire will have. The three categories are Behavioral, Financial, and Type of Relationship. An executive director should be well acquainted with these factors before bringing new staff on and determining their employment status.

3- Intellectual Property (IP): Copyrights and Trademarks.

Like any other legal entity, nonprofits have the right to own and profit from their intellectual property. However, any arts nonprofit should be aware of many important IP issues that could impact its legal health.

Copyright protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression, including books; publications; software; website design; photos; art, including pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works); music; sound recordings; dramatic works; motion pictures; architectural work; choreography; and, in some cases, data.

A trademark is a name, word, phrase, symbol, logo, design, or sound used in connection with a good or service, and used to indicate the source of the goods/services and to distinguish them from the goods/services of others.

Your nonprofit organization must  be careful in the manner in which way this material is used and maintained. There are such important issues as inurement, private benefit, taxable expenditures (IRS Section 4945), ownership, ‘Self-Dealing’, the exploitation of IP owned by the non-profit, and the hiring of a for-profit entity to create intellectual property.

4-Advocacy vs Lobbying

This question comes up a great deal–exactly what is the line of demarcation between advocating for your organization with your local government, your state arts council, and in Washington, and lobbying?

From the Center for Non-Profits in New Jersey: “Nonprofits are expressly prohibited from intervening in a political campaign of any candidate for public office, and from engaging in partisan activity of any kind. In addition, nonprofits may not use government funds, such as government grants or contracts, to lobby, including the use of federal funds to lobby for federal grants or contracts.”

Nonprofit organizations face many crucial issues, and therefore it is more important than ever that they become involved in the arts funding public policy debate. But, in actuality, federal laws exist to encourage nonprofits to lobby within certain specified limits. Knowing what constitutes lobbying under the law, and what the limits are, is the key to being able to lobby legally and safely.

Nonprofits are permitted to lobby–within limits. According to the Center for Non-Profits, “federal law clearly states that a 501(c)(3) publicly supported charity may devote no more than an ‘insubstantial’ portion of its activities to lobbying.” Also, the IRS does not view attempts to influence administrative rules, regulations or other executive branch actions as lobbying. The best brief source to explain the difference between lobbying and advocacy can be seen at

ArtPride New Jersey, for example, annually attends National Arts Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. joined by many nonprofit arts organizations to meet with members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation. Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-7) is the co-chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus and he and other members of Congress are very open to hear updates on arts related issues from non-profit arts organizations.

ArtPride New Jersey also has training and resources for the boards and staff of nonprofit arts organizations on this topic. This training helps arts advocates better understand their role in the legislative process.

I hope this article is of some benefit to you and your arts nonprofit. This is by no means a complete list of all the areas of law an arts nonprofit organization might confront in its journey to provide services to its stakeholders. If your organization has specific questions, it is strongly advisable that you seek legal counsel with regard to any particular situation.

Joey_019r2-Edit (3)Joey Novick, Esq. is the former Executive Director of the New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. He is a member of the Executive Board of the Entertainment & Sports Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and sits on the Board of the National Volunteer Lawyers of the Arts organization. He is a performing comedy artist himself, having appeared at comedy clubs nationally; his one man show, “Comedian Elected to Town Council in New Jersey” will be a featured part of the United Solo Festival this fall in New York City. He may be contacted at

Don’t Be Left Out! Complete Paper Survey to Be Counted in Arts/Economic Impact Study by 12/31

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We have until the end of the year let everyone know that the nonprofit arts industry makes a real difference to New Jersey’s economy.  If you’ve not yet completed the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 organizational survey online, here a chance to still be counted by completing a ONE PAGE PAPER SURVEY!

The survey is available as a Word doc and as a PDF. When completed, please email, USPS mail, or fax directly to Americans for the Arts where your numbers will be added to those organizations that have already completed the survey online.

This survey is due by 12/31.  This is the final deadline for organizations to be part of the statewide study.  If you cannot complete it by that date, please notify Ann Marie Miller as soon as possible.

Audience surveys are the other important part of this study that quantify patron spending related to attending an arts event, exhibit or activity. Audiences are still being surveyed around the state until December 31.  If you have not yet surveyed your audience members and wish them to be counted, please contact ArtPride staff as soon as possible. We have the 1-page form ready for you and can assist with training staff or volunteers.

This time next year we will be electing a new Governor in our state. It’s critical that candidates understand the economic value of the arts in New Jersey. Be counted so we can paint an accurate and stunning portrait of the arts in all corners of our state!

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