As we broke for lunch, it was a good time to say hello to fellow TA’s and reconnect, however so briefly. For most of us, we have gathered together at this seminar, shared workshops, chatted about our latest projects, grumbled about lack of work, etc. But the mere fact we recognize each other, we also strengthen our bond in our trade. Poets, writers, musicians, dancers, photographers and more. I had the chance to meet, talk with and encourage several new faces just arriving on the TA scene. That perhaps was the most satisfying aspect of the day for me.

It was also a time for a group photo of my fellow Young Audiences artists and staff. These people have been a tremendous influence in my life, my career and my family. I’ve been with YANJ for 25 years, with RockRoots, a few solo gigs and with the many, many arts ed and early childhood seminars that I’ve been able to attend. They have literally shaped my artistic life.

I randomly sat down for lunch with two women from Sustainable New Jersey, another advocacy group that recognizes the part of the arts in our community. They do a lot of work in the eco-field, of course, but they said these conferences are much more fun. I told them of the work of my friend Doug Roysdon and Lehigh University here in the Lehigh Valley with his efforts to quantify the effects of the small arts organizations to promote cultural sustainability in our own community.