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Arts and Culture Advocacy Series: January O'Neil

The Arts and Culture Advocacy Series features voices in the community who are actively working to promote arts and culture as an essential and valuable part of business, community, and daily life. 


Tell us a bit about yourself and what role you play in the creative community?

I’ve lived in Beverly since my son was born in 2003. Since then I’ve made an effort to get involved with arts on the North Shore. For 6 years, until 2018, I was the executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival—the largest poetry festival in New England. I’ve been a full-time professor at Salem State University since 2012, and a Montserrat College Board of Trustees member since 2016. And it’s been my great honor to host events at the Salem and Beverly Arts festival during the years.  

Why do you feel the arts, culture, and creativity are important? 

Art in all forms is a form of communication. It’s a way of processing the day-to-day. With every poem, painting, expressive dance, or musical composition, that expression helps us see the world from a different perspective. Art fosters empathy, which seems in short supply these days.

How do you feel arts, culture, and creativity most profoundly impact your personal and/or business life?

Poetry is my center. All of my personal and professional decisions spring from this well. My fellow writers and I have always said that this area of the North Shore is a nexus of creativity. How lucky I am to be a part of this community.

Share with us one event or initiative that falls under the arts, culture, creativity umbrella that you are really excited about and want to share with readers? (can be something you are working on or something you are aware of). 

I’m excited about the Crossing Water: Over, On, and Under the Beverly-Salem Bridge Festival happening this September. I have connections to both cities, so I want to do what I can to help behind the scenes. I’m excited about what promises to be a dynamic, inclusive event.

Art in all forms is a form of communication. It’s a way of processing the day-to-day.

January O’Neil

What would be one thing you would like to relay/request offuture creative thinking business owners and leaders

They should work harder to engage diverse populations.

How do you feel that being a member/partner of Creative Collective gives you the tools and support to reach your hopes and aspirations for the creative community? 

Creative Collective is a natural fit for my core values, which center around art, community, and family. There’s no other organization that shows off the vibrancy and innovation happening north of Boston.

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