Bringing art and people together
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From the Executive Director

I am thrilled to be joining such a dynamic organization of artists, students, and arts patrons. The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is the state’s premiere contemporary arts center. It justifiably claims the largest student enrollment capacity of any independent arts center in the state. In addition, the Art Center is renowned for its award-winning and world-class-contemporary art exhibitions. Recognized as a Major Impact Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Art Center also leads an impressive number of community partnerships, outreach and new audience development programs. These initiatives help connect faculty, students and artists with senior centers, regional school districts, libraries, and other community venues.

Today, organizations like the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey are fighting an uphill battle to remain relevant in the public eye. Too often they are allowed to close their doors when funding ceases. Funding ceases when the community no longer perceives the value of the services rendered. Many people do not understand the arts; for them, the arts are an industry that is aloof, off-the-grid, and/or elitist.

The truth is however that a vast majority of community arts organizations are specifically devoted to the welfare of the community and the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is certainly one of the finest examples of this. The Art Center’s mission of “Bringing art and people together” is about breaking down social barriers, creating new access points, and building opportunities for everyone to experience the arts. The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey provides multiple access points for people of all ages, abilities, and circumstance to participate in the arts.

It is my hope to bring the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey closer to the hearts and minds of the people of Summit while extending the program reach much farther than anyone might think possible. The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has an incredible mission to fulfill and we have an incredible team of artists, staff and board to fulfill it. I am thrilled to be joining this organization and cannot wait to join the efforts of so many members, faculty and staff to make the arts an even greater part of New Jersey’s story.

Derek Mithaug
Executive Director


Mr. Mithaug joined the Art Center in February 2014. As the former Executive Director of The Wharton Music Center, Mithaug oversaw the acquisition of The New Jersey Youth Symphony, creating New Jersey’s largest independent community center for the performing arts. Mr. Mithaug has an MA in Higher Education Administration from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, and a BA and MA in music from The Juilliard School.

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