New Haven Director of Cultural Affairs Adriane Jefferson Wins National Arts Leadership Award

NEW HAVEN — New Haveners aren’t the only ones noticing how the city’s director of cultural affairs, Adriane Jefferson, has broadened the definition of her job far beyond just supporting arts and culture to embrace city-wide cultural equity and anti-racism initiatives.

A national organization, Americans for the Artsawarded Jefferson his 2022 American Express Emerging Leader Award at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in Washington, DC

The award “recognizes an outstanding new and/or young arts professional for exemplary leadership, deep engagement with the community, and strong commitment to advancing the arts,” the organization said in a statement.

“Americans for the Arts has been a strong supporter of advancing new artistic leadership, and Adriane Jefferson exemplifies this next generation,” said Nolen V. Bivens, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “She is a thought leader and her expertise and passion for the arts, diversity, access, inclusion and social change make her a real asset in community arts leadership.

“Adriane has dedicated her career to fostering a more equitable, vibrant and sustainable artistic landscape,” said Bivens. “I congratulate her on this recognition – she is a leader who highlights the transformative impact the arts can have.”

Jefferson, who is also executive director of New Haven Festivals Inc., has worked in the arts and culture sector for more than 17 years and served as the city’s director of cultural affairs shortly after Mayor Justin Elicker took office. in 2020.

“I am extremely grateful to lead the city in cultural equity initiatives and to have our city’s work recognized on a national platform,” Jefferson said. “The most important thing I want people to know is that I couldn’t have accomplished this alone.

“The past two and a half years have truly been about partnering, collaborating, listening and learning, so that we can move toward more equitable outcomes for residents of our communities,” Jefferson said.

Mayor Justin Elicker and the city’s economic development administrator, Michael Piscitelli, were also thrilled to see Jefferson get the recognition.

“Adriane Jefferson has shown exemplary leadership in her role as Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of New Haven and in creating our Cultural Equity Plan – the first of its kind in the city and state,” Elicker said. “Adriane has brought people together from across the city and from all walks of life to celebrate the arts – and, most importantly, has done so in a way that uplifts and centers artists and individuals who have too often been overlooked.

“New Haven is the cultural capital of Connecticut, and with Adriane’s continued leadership and the continued contributions of so many amazing artists, New Haven will also continue to be the cultural capital of the state,” he said. declared.

“Adriane’s work on cultural and racial equity is both inspiring and transcendent, moving us all forward towards a more just and inclusive society,” Piscitelli said. “Congratulations Adriane and thank you to Americans for the Arts for recognizing true leadership at this important moment in time.”

As director of cultural affairs, Jefferson and her department created the Arts for Anti-racism Pledge, The Unapologetically Radical Conference, and the city’s and state’s first-ever cultural equity plan.

Prior to beginning work in New Haven, Jefferson was an arts program manager for the state Department of Economic and Community Development/Bureau of the Arts, where she developed programs such as The Arts Workforce Initiative paid employment program and the READI (Relevance, Equity, Music Conference on Access, Diversity and Inclusion).

The latter has placed hundreds of young creative workers of color in artistic jobs and professional development opportunities across the state.

In his current position, Jefferson oversees the city’s membership in the Government Alliance of Race & Equity and formed the Core Race Equity Task Force. Jefferson is also a member of the Closing Gaps Network, Living Cities Initiative, which provides ongoing leadership training on community organizing, anti-racism principles, equity assessments and capacity building.

She is also a member of the Connecticut Arts Council, a member of the advisory board of the New England Foundation for the Arts and an ex-officio board member of the Shubert Performing Arts Center. Jefferson previously received the Urban Professional Network’s 40-Under-40 Award and CT Magazine’s 40-Under-40 Award.

James C. Tibbs