Arts District post split, board to expand

The Rahway Arts District (RAD) split its executive director position and plans to expand the Board of Trustees to include representation beyond its downtown boundaries.

The 10-member board approved a motion at its meeting on Nov. 24 to amend the 2015 budget and adopt the 2016 budget, including several line-item adjustments to account for sharing the executive director duties among two people.

Amy Garcia Phillips will be part-time artistic director and Gina Rodriguez will be full-time business manager of the district management corporation for the downtown Special Improvement District (SID), now going by the name Rahway Arts & Business Partnership (RABP).

Since August, the two had been splitting responsibilities of the executive director position along those lines. The previous executive director stepped down this past spring. Phillips is founder of Contento Dance and Rodriguez is founder and director of the Rahway International Film Festival.

The marketing/communications line-item in the 2015 budget was not entirely spent so effective Dec. 1, the board moved $3,000 to administration/staff to cover some additional compensation for the directors. The previous executive director earned an annual salary of about $50,000, according to tax forms. The 2015 RAD budget (which is funded through the SID assessment) was $145,000 and the 2016 budget will be $140,000.

There currently are two vacancies on the RAD board, which eventually will expand to 13 to include representatives from the Routes 1/9, St. Georges Avenue and industrial areas of town. The board decided as part of expanding the SID to pursue expanding representation on the board. Board members discussed filling the two vacant seats first before bringing on the three geographic board members but will begin the process of generating names and soliciting prospective members.

The city plans to appeal a judge’s ruling earlier this year that invalidated an expanded, citywide SID. The city only just started talking to attorneys about the appeal so it could take another year from start to finish, RAD Chairman Joel Schwartz told trustees at their Nov. 24 meeting.