The Arts Brings Residents and Tourists to Play and Chill in Lincoln Park

The Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District (LPCCD) non-profit unique business model in which community development meets the arts, culture, and wellness succeeds in attracting potential residents back to the neighborhood to live and play. LPCCD thoughtfully plans, designs and builds a comprehensive art and cultural district in the Lincoln Park neighborhood appealing to residents and visitors alike.

The Lincoln Park Music Festival speaks to the soul of the community, w i t h good vibes surging throughout Newark’s wards with all roads leading downtown for the annual fête. Tens of thousands of attendees pack the park during the two weeks at end of July and first weekend in August when the festival is in full swing. Attendees from throughout the tri-state region enjoy a full season of celebration through public art, films, poetry and music that explores multiple genres including Gospel, Jazz, House, Hip-Hop, and Rhythm & Blues. “If the weather cooperates, in 2023 we’ll finally launch Lincoln Park Caribana” says Kim J. Ford, who serves as festival director. “There is just not enough stage time during the last weekend in July to program all the wonderful cultures of the African diaspora!”

Take Yameen Allworld for instance, a tourist from Philadelphia and a self-proclaimed “hip hop head” attended the 15th Anniversary Festival for the first time after learning about it from Newark Happening’s Philadelphia promotions. Yameen, along with eight of his friends, stayed at the Tryp Hotel in downtown Newark, which made it easy for them to walk around downtown and explore the city. Allworld, a plant-based foodie, was most impressed with the wide range of restaurants offering vegan options, “The local vegan restaurants were off the hinges!,” he said and made the overall experience “satisfying and worth the hour and twenty-minute drive.”

This was also a season of firsts. Yogi Fest, previously held in Essex County’s South Mountain Reservation, premiered in Lincoln Park. According to Yogi Fest founder and Newark native, Tyrone Daye, “It means a lot to me doing it in Newark because it’s where I’m from. I was the first Black male yoga teacher in Newark back in May 2020, so it was only right that the Yogi Fest was done in my city.” Another first was NJPAC’s Music and Movement series, in partnership with Newark City Parks Foundation, which encouraged residents to get “Back Together Again” with friends, family, and community at free weekly Wednesday afterwork activities in Lincoln Park featuring salsa, jazz, hip hop and aerobic dance.

A first time ever, outdoor exposition of the global soul line-dancing phenomenon in partnership with Step 4 Step Soul Line Dancing and neighborhood anchor institution Newark Symphony Hall. Though rain threatened to put a damper on the event, the spirit of dance triumphed as hundreds of soul liners in color coordinated t-shirts stepped in the name of fun, never missing a beat while enjoying nibbles from local food trucks. Said Chris Sabin, the Director of Communication and Social Impact & Community Engagement for Newark Symphony Hall, “We are better together. Newark Symphony Hall understands that sharing resources with our neighbors, such as Lincoln Park, and our partner Step 4 Step helps tell the story of how we are all parts of the city’s art community, and the intentionality helps bring smiles to everyone and shows more of Newark to the world.” Lincoln Park even turned into “Rodney’s House” for one evening, which celebrated the life and artistic spirit of the late Rodney M. Gilbert, whose Yendor Productions was headquartered on Spruce Street near Washington Street now named Rodney M. Gilbert Way.

While the arts drive tourism, Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District continues to stay mission aligned by facilitating the integration of arts, culture and community well-being. Its Lincoln Park Music Speaks Artist Re-Grant Initiative gave ten artists micro-grants to “finish that project” by 2022. Funded in 2021 by New Jersey Arts and Culture Relief (now Renewal) Fund in response to the negative effects of COVID-19 on the arts community, LPCCD regranted $15,000 to local artists to actualize showcases, album projects, and support local curators like Newark Pride Inc., The Newark Times’ Live & Direct showcase and Porchfest Newark which in turn showcase dozens of local acts around the city. Lynne Toye, executive director of the New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund understands how the arts, music, and cultural events and programming LPCCD offers impacts the neighborhood. Toye states “The arts, music, and cultural programming bring people together and provide shared experiences. The organizations that provide cultural programs are making them more accessible than ever, providing access for so many New Jersey residents to enjoy the vibrant arts and culture we have throughout the state.”

As the Lincoln Park neighborhood continues to appeal as a destination to visitors and residents alike, in its twentieth year, Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District is still doing the work to ensure the delivery of residential and neighborhood services for the advancement of economic development through entrepreneurship and creative industry job growth through the lens of the arts. Now, that’s homegrown place-keeping for sure.

Jonique Waddy is published blogger and founder of Kissing Cameras multimedia production house.

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