I first wrote this in 2014. Here it is 2021 and I can’t believe I’m still talking about this.

It’s been almost NINE YEARS since Cheryl Broschard was first recommended to be on the NJ State Council on the Arts (NJSCA). TEN YEARS since the heart of South Jersey has had representation. Cheryl has been endorsed by three State Senators, two Assemblymen, a dozen arts organizations and almost one hundred artists. Still nothing.

A few months ago we were told we needed more than one representative from South Jersey. Of course we do, so several people started approaching me with suggestions. And recently another organization put out a last minute call for résumés because the Governor is ready to finally move on this. It seems to be a secret who they are actually recommending. Why, you may ask.

I think whoever gets on the Council needs to be effective, not just from South Jersey. We’ve been way too long without representation to have people on the Council who are afraid to rock the boat a little. They need to be able to speak up for all the artists and organizations who do a great job in South Jersey, not just a select few. They need vision, common sense and honesty. They need to be able to listen objectively and act passionately. They need to actually understand why the arts of South Jersey are unique instead of trying to fit us into the same mold as North Jersey. And they need to leave the bubble sometimes. There’s an awful lot of art going on here if you know where to look.

Below are the four suggestions to be on the Council that seem to make the most sense. I’m sure some will disagree but I actually took the time to get to know these people. It’s certainly not all about what you see on paper or in an embellished résumé. They are a diverse group in many ways and that’s a good thing. Each has very different fields of expertise and backgrounds. Another good thing. Each live and work in South Jersey and have done so for many, many years. Some may surprise you. Take a look.

Cheryl Broschard is the Development & Cultural Project Manager at AtlantiCare, Atlantic County’s largest employer. As such, she runs its successful Healing Arts Program. She is very familiar with the artists of South Jersey and many arts organizations. She is known for her honesty, dedication to the arts as well as her financial and organizational skills and attention to detail. She lives in Atlantic County, born and raised, and also happens to be Native American. In the last three years she has been endorsed by three Senators, two Assemblymen, a dozen arts organizations and almost one hundred artists. She is still waiting for a nomination.

Vedra Chandler was born and raised in Camden. She graduated Harvard University with a degree in Government but decided to leave the corporate world to pursue her true passion – singing. In 2010 she ran away with the circus to perform the role of the Soul Singer in Kooza by Cirque Du Soleil. She traveled the world as a singer/dancer before returning to her hometown of Camden where she is Community Events Manager at Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. She uses the arts as a vehicle to tap into the potential of Camden city and its residents and revitalize underutilized spaces through the Connect the Lots initiative. She also serves on several boards for the arts in her area.

David Todd McCarty is a creative genius and astute businessman who lives in Cape May County. He is a partner in a successful ad agency located in Moorestown, NJ. He is also a photographer, writer, director and online newspaper publisher who is well known in the art world. He understands what makes the artists and arts of South Jersey tick. He also understands the importance of good marketing and branding, something sorely needed for the arts. He is a member of, and very involved in, the Cape May County Democratic Committee.

Barry Taylor is the former president of Millville’s Wheaton Arts, and a past president and board member of ArtPride where he still holds emeritus status. He also was an executive in community affairs after leaving Wheaton Arts. He has been a staunch advocate for the arts of South Jersey, even in retirement. He understands the inner workings of the NJSCA while still connecting with the individuals and organizations who work so hard to produce the arts of South Jersey.

We are so fortunate to have found these four exceptionally qualified individuals who are willing to give of their time to help the arts and the communities they love. We need them and they will make you proud.