J-Town Tidbits: Do you know the Jefferson Arts Committee?

The Jefferson Arts Committee is a non-profit organization located in Jefferson Township (Morris County), New Jersey, dedicated to the pursuit of cultural and artistic activities that include but are not limited to concerts, student artist programs, special choral and instrumental performances, art and photography shows, summer gazebo concerts, and theatrical performances.

The concept was conceived back in 1986 when the Liberty Days Committee was formed by township residents Jack Kelly, Debbie Smead, Janet Breckenridge, Frances Focacci, and some other interested township residents. They wanted to celebrate the Statue of Liberty’s Centennial in Jefferson Township with a huge celebration, and they did. After such a successful event, they decided to form a committee to continue the celebration concept; and in 1987, they formed the Jefferson Arts Committee (JAC) naming it after its new chairman Jack Kelly.

Over the years, seeing an interest in many areas of the arts, The Jefferson Community Players, The Jefferson Township Community Band, and The Jefferson Township Community Chorus emerged from the JAC’s mission as performing arts groups. Over the past few years, The Jefferson Township Community Jazz Band was formed, and today all are sponsored under the umbrella of the Jefferson Arts Committee. All the groups have a specific interest and operate successfully within the community.

Additional sub-committees were eventually formed to handle specific tasks including the Jefferson Township Day Committee, the Gazebo Committee, the Scholarship Committee, the Student Artists of the Month Committee, the Christmas in the Village Committee, and the Fundraising Committee.

The JAC’s mission is to provide cultural activities for the residents of Jefferson Township and its neighboring communities, promote an active interest in cultural affairs by the community, and encourage participation of youth in these activities. It is incorporated and tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Current officers are Carol Punturieri-President, Sheila Rhoades-Vice President/Public Relations, John Focacci-Vice President/Special Events, Renee Marinello-Vice President/Fundraising, Betty Eastman-Treasurer, Jean Wilson-Assistant Treasurer, Rose Jackameit-Recording Secretary, and Janet Breckenridge-Corresponding S:ecretary.

Sponsors and subsidizes the Jefferson Township Community Concert & Jazz Bands both presently under the direction of Peter Tummillo

The Concert Band performs in:
• An annual Spring Concert
• An annual Christmas Concert during Christmas in the Village
• A summer Gazebo Concert

Additional performances at the discretion of the Director
The Jazz Band performs in
• An annual Big Band Bash event
• A summer Gazebo Concert (with the Concert Band)
• An annual Spring Concert (with the Concert Band)
Additional performances at the discretion of the Director

Sponsors and subsidizes the Jefferson Township Community Chorus under the direction of Mike Yannuzzi

The Chorus performs in:
• An annual Spring concert
• An annual Christmas Concert on Christmas in the Village weekend
Additional performances at the discretion of the Director

Sponsors and subsidizes the Jefferson Community Players under the direction of Jean Simonson.

The Players perform in:
• An annual theatrical performance at the Jefferson Township Public Library
• An annual theatrical performance during Christmas in the Village
• Various theatrical performances throughout the year at the discretion of the Director
• Performances by the JCP’s spin-off – the Uncorked Improv Group

Staged and organized the Annual Jefferson Township Day Celebration, parade, arts/crafts/merchandise vendors, food vendors, special exhibits, family oriented activities, live entertainment throughout the day, an evening concert under the stars, and an incredible aerial fireworks display (July 2016 marked the 30th annual celebration).

  • NEW in 2017 – Jefferson Fest – Food Truck Festival, Concert & Fireworks beginning at 5:30 PM with two afternoon events: a Youth Fishing Derby sponsored by the The Fred S. Burroughs North Jersey Chapter of Trout Unlimited and an Irish Road Bowling Tournament sponsored by the JAC. 

    Save the date Saturday, July 8, 2017, Rain Date July 9th. FREE ADMISSION to       JTHS Fields

  • Coordinates and presents the annual Christmas in the Village event in the historic Village of Milton (2016 marked the 11th annual celebration) in conjunction with the Jefferson Township Historical Society offering live entertainment, arts/crafts/merchandise vendors, food, refreshments, Gingerbread House Contest, and family fun. Participating venues include St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, the Milton United Methodist Church, Jefferson Township Fire Company No. 1’s firehouse, the Milton First Aid Squad building, the American Legion Post #423 grounds, the Jefferson Township Senior Center Building, and the Jefferson Township Museum.
  • Stages and presents the annual Gazebo Free Summer Concert series at the Jefferson Township Gazebo located in the Municipal Complex on Friday evenings beginning in late June to the end of August presenting all different genres of music.
  • Sponsors an annual Scholarship Award to a deserving high school senior planning on pursuing a Bachelors Degree in the arts and a second award to a high school senior planning on pursuing an Associate Degree in the arts (i.e., theater, graphic arts, communications, music, photography, etc.)
  • Sponsors the monthly Student Artists of the Month Program with the cooperation of the Jefferson Township school district’s art teachers where outstanding student artwork is recognized and displayed at the Jefferson Township Public Library culminating in a reception with a guest speaker in the Jefferson Township High School Media Center. Students are presented with a Certificate and a Medal.
  • Hosts the annual Designer Handbag Bingo and Tricky Tray event as its major annual fundraiser, scheduled this year for June 9, 2017 in the Jefferson Township High School cafeterias and gym.
  • Organizes and hosts Country Line Dancing Nights Out with a popular local DJ/line dance instructor and presents a dessert table to the attendees.
  • Has offered and will continue to offer Bus Trips to the public to various places of interest, i.e. the 9-11 Memorial site, Broadway Shows, Grounds for Sculpture, etc.
  • Has presented and will continue to present Concerts, i.e., the West Point Concert Band, the West Point Jazz Knights, the Silver Starlight Orchestra
  • Has hosted a Photography Show and hopes to host a future art show
  • Has hosted a Taste of Jefferson food sampling event offering food items from Jefferson Township restaurants
  • Has hosted the Musical IQ Drumming program for children and hopes to host another presentation in the near future
  • New members are always welcome

Website: www.jeffersonarts.org
On Facebook: Jefferson Arts Committee
Email: artscommittee@jeffersonarts.org and jeffersonartscomm@hotmail.com
Call: 973-697-3828

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Carol was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Jefferson Township with her husband in 1976. She initially joined the Garden Club of Milton, eventually serving as President. She was a co-founder of the ABC Mothers Group, active in the local PTAs, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts. She worked for AIM Newspapers as a reporter and eventually became its Editor. Currently, she is President of the Jefferson Arts Committee and recently retired as the Recreation Program Coordinator in the Jefferson Township Recreation Department. She can be reached at carol.punturieri@thejeffersonchronicle.com.