Haverhill’s Jenny Arndt—well-known in Haverhill’s creative and education circles—was recently hired as the new Merrimack Valley Arts and Culture Specialist.
The one-year pilot position was created through a collaboration between Creative County at Essex County Community Foundation and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.
“Culture, however you define it, is the beating heart of a community. And the arts are one way of pumping the blood,” said Arndt. “I think it’s important for the creatives in the community to have a seat at the table when talking about development and planning to keep the very things that make a community livable at the forefront. Arts and culture should never be an afterthought.”
Essex County Community Foundation said it seeks to strengthen the creative sector of Essex County with a collaborative approach to ecosystem building and support, while the Haverhill-based Planning Commission said it is looking to increase local capacity to create vibrant town and city centers and communities that are safe, healthy, inclusive, diverse and accessible, and offer many natural and cultural opportunities.
Creative County Initiative Program Director Karen Ristuben said, “Jenny will play a critical role in developing positive connections across the arts, cultural, municipal and business sectors of the 15 communities MVPC serves.”
Arndt will work from the Commission and be responsible for research, data gathering and analysis, cultivating relationships within the Merrimack Valley arts and culture network and developing positive connections across the arts, cultural, municipal and business sectors.
Jerrard Whitten, executive director of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, said “We believe that the creative spirit of a community enriches lives, fosters inspiration, and serves as a catalyst for economic growth. With Jenny in this new role, we aim to harness the transformative power of the arts to create a more vibrant, inclusive and economically prosperous region for all.”
Arndt, who started the job a month ago, is a former Haverhill Public Schools arts instructor, campaign director of Haverhill Promise and arts and culture coordinator at Creative Haverhill.