The Avenue Concept is growing. The scope of our work and the scale of our ambitions have gotten bigger, and we’re expanding our team to keep up. One of the most important additions has been Betsy Jones, our General Manager. Her intellect, organization, and ability to juggle projects help us execute our crazy ideas. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Betsy.
What is your role at The Avenue Concept?
As the General manager I’ve been creating systems and processes for TAC to grow and expand. It isn’t the most outwardly glamorous role, but I’ve come to understand how important it is for artists and big picture thinkers to have systems and procedures available to them to ensure that their visions come to fruition.
How did you wind up here?
After undergrad, I moved to Paris to teach English for a year and I found myself enjoying teaching. I relocated to New York and spent four years teaching US History in an international high school for recent immigrants. When my husband and I settled in Rhode Island, I did a substantial amount of soul searching and realized that I was not going to be able to create a sustainable career for myself as a teacher. I became a 29-year-old intern at WaterFire Providence before being hired full-time. I worked on the administration side of things and quickly recognized I enjoy and am skilled in providing the organization needed to bring visions into reality. After four unforgettable years, I was ready for my next adventure. Luckily, Yarrow was looking for someone to create systems for The Avenue Concept. I started working with TAC last November and officially came aboard as the General Manager early this year.
What made you want to work for a public art organization?
There are artists locally and internationally that are creating fantastic work. I love being able to help showcase that work in public for everyone to enjoy. Public art creates avenues for connection and interaction between members of our community. Whether people are tourists or locals, everyone has their own entry point to the work and engages with it differently.
In keeping with my education background, I’m excited to dig into our residency and fellowship programs so that we can encourage and enable artists in their personal explorations of creativity. I love to support people in their learning journeys, to use my skills to bolster people in trying something new and out of their comfort zone.
What’s your measure of success for your work here?
If I do my job well, eventually everything will run smoothly and you won’t even know I’m here. I’ll happily be behind the scenes making sure we’re humming along, evolving well, and continuing to create sustainable avenues for public art in our state.
You’re a native Rhode Islander, but moved away for a long time. What brought you back?
I grew up in South County, and I was ready to explore more of the world after a small town upbringing. I have been lucky enough to live in Montreal, Paris, New York, and Providence over the past 16 years. I loved living and learning in other places, but when I would return to Rhode Island to visit family and friends, it felt like home in a way that no other place has. Six years ago this July, I came home.
The Rhode Island I left 16 years ago is vastly different than the Rhode Island today. The Providence I moved to six years ago is different than Providence today. The growth and creativity that continue to propel us forward create an inspiring environment to live in. The potential for evolution is astounding and fills me with hope.