Ridgefield Arts Council chair moves on after nearly a decade of service

RIDGEFIELD — The town’s arts council has a new leader at the helm.

After two years as chair and nearly a decade of service altogether, resident Jennifer DiLaura has left the organization. She announced her resignation earlier this year, and on Monday was succeeded by newcomer council member Colleen Cash.

When DiLaura moved to Ridgefield in 2009, she immediately looked around to see where she could make herself useful. The arts were an obvious choice.

“My mother was an artist, I was an actor as a child/young adult and had a background in performing,” she said. “It’s always been a part of my world — I can’t imagine my world without some sort of art in it.”

In her early years on the council DiLaura helped facilitate partnerships between the town’s creative community and the local schools to encourage different ways of learning among students.

DiLaura beamed as she discussed the “Careers in the Arts” initiative, which invites industry professionals to Ridgefield High to speak to students about the trajectories of their respective careers.

“It’s a great way to get kids understanding that (they) can make a living in the arts, and the program continues to this day” she said. “With the need for content in all these different areas, there are so many more ways to make a living — you can go for what you want.”

For a number of years DiLaura chaired the council’s executive director roundtable. The quarterly gathering brings nonprofit arts organizations together to discuss schedules, challenges and opportunities for collaboration.

She is also credited with bringing Make Music Day to Ridgefield. The daylong affair, which is entering its fourth year, gives residents the chance to listen and interact with dozens of participating musical groups and instructors all over town.

All these initiatives share a common thread, DiLaura said: they showcase the abundance of local talent that exists in Ridgefield, “from professionals on Broadway and in film to the students.”

This talent will be even more pronounced as Ridgefield looks to capitalize on its cultural district designation. The council has helped market the distinction in concert with the town’s Economic and Community Development Commission.

In terms of her replacement, DiLaura said that Cash has the ability to take the council “to the next level.”

As a native of suburban Stony Brook, N.Y., Cash was determined to make a connection before moving to suburban Ridgefield. A Google search led her to the council’s homepage and, eventually, to DiLaura’s contact information.

“The arts are a great source of pride for Ridgefield … and I saw the organization as a vehicle for community growth and connection,” Cash said. “The arts have been a gift to me in my life, and the council (works to) share that gift both in town and outside of town.”

Cash and her fiance moved to Ridgefield from Manhattan earlier this year. She is the vice president of auctions at Artnet, an online art marketplace, art market data and analytics provider and global newswire. In this role Cash manages the company’s marketplace division and oversees private sales, fixed-price sales and more than 75 auction events annually.

During a college internship with the New York State Council on the Arts, Cash learned how the arts can be used to drive economic development within a community, and how funding can turn a region into a destination, she said.

Cash officially joined the Ridgefield Arts Council this summer as a member of its marketing committee. In this role she has identified synergies between the council’s work and its local partners to see how it should expand moving forward.

As chair, Cash hopes to not only grow the council’s metaphysical reach but its physical membership, as well. She encourages anyone interested in joining to email artscouncilridgefieldct@gmail.com.

Cash also intends to continue the work DiLaura “spent so many years fostering,” she said.