Curating Cultural Activities for Jersey City Residents
The Friends of the Community Awareness Series provides cultural arts, educational, informational and outreach programs to the Jersey City community. Most notably, they produce the Annual African Cultural Arts Family Festival at Berry Lane Park in Ward F. The organization also provides music therapy to students, students with disabilities, seniors, community, and veteran organizations across the city.
Friends of the Community Awareness Series convene throughout the year to plan and promote cultural family-friendly venues and activities, develop a communal participation strategy, and engage local contributing partners.
HealthierJC + Friends of the Community Awareness Series
For Friends of the Community Awareness Series, a Culture of Health means improving the quality of life for Jersey City residents. The organization produces various art, creative and musical events at Jersey City public parks and neighborhood group venues. At these events, individuals have the opportunity to develop an appreciation for cultural arts in a group participation setting. They understand that music and art, speak the universal language of community!
The programming developed by Friends of the Community Awareness Series closely aligns with the HealthierJC mission to expand access to quality education, promote fellowship, and build future community leaders. In awarding the mini-grant, HealthierJC acknowledged the long-term contribution and commitment of Friends of the Community Awareness Series to advancing a Culture of Health in Jersey City.
The African Cultural Arts Family Festival
The HealthierJC mini-grant went towards producing the annual African Cultural Arts Family Festival (ACAFF), which provides outdoor arts, music, information, and education to Jersey City and Hudson County residents.
For Friends of the Community Awareness Series, the fundamental goals of the ACAFF are to foster appreciation for the significant cultural contributions of marginalized groups of color, and provide a holistic intergenerational family experience. Since its inception in 2013, the ACAFF has sought to curate a memorable, meaningful and multi-dimensional cultural family festival, where they:
- Provide a main stage venue for live entertainment.
- Designate an area for children centered activities and learning.
- Inform attendees about city, county, state resources on a variety of topics.
- Enlist a roster of food court vendors that can deliver a sensory cultural experience.
- Host a “Pop-Up” marketplace highlighting local small business & crafters. This is a great opportunity to purchase handmade crafts and support local small businesses.
- Commemorate Juneteenth, which became a national holiday in 2021.
Over the years, ACAFF has drawn large numbers of people from diverse cultures, coming together in harmony to share a unique communal experience. The air was filled with positive communication, uplifting music, contagious child laughter and movement.
The Friends of the Community Awareness Series is grateful to HealthierJC and countless individuals, who promote and support ACAFF in Jersey City and across Hudson County. This expansive outreach has brought together multicultural crowds of 1500+ attendees to this annual daylong cultural event. Moreover, despite COVID-19, the annual ACAFF has persevered, with the exception of 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.
Moving forward, the Friends of the Community Awareness Series remains committed to the ACAFF festival, which as of 2022 officially includes a Juneteenth celebration. Their mission: uplift the public’s spirit and foster a positive vibe through art and music.
In addition to the ACAFF, the Friends of the Community Awareness Series host a daylong marketplace event focused on providing small regional entrepreneurs a venue to come in, display and sell their wares, and network within the Jersey City community. Marketplace participation in has steadily grown over the years, and Friends of the Community Awareness Series hope to expand this event from 1-day to a full 3-day weekend in coming years.