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Ann Rosenblum Played Starring Roll in Making Farmstead Arts A Reality

Music lover-turned-lawyer returns to her first love in volunteer role.

Ann Rosenblum's artwork isn't hanging on the walls of the historic farmhouse that since last year has been housing art exhibits and workshops at the township's

Nor — although she began her college career majoring in music — has Rosenblum performed during any of the concerts sponsored by the Farmstead Arts for most of the past several months.

But Rosenblum's mark is all over the Farmstead Arts. Her hardwork as a volunteer on the property's Board of Trustees and as program coordinator has been an essential part of turning the township's investment in an old farm with historic structures that needed work into what is becoming a thriving arts center.

"I like the feeling of getting all the artists together, and getting the arts into the community," Rosenblum said.

Another good feeling also comes, she said, from within the last year seeing progress on the creation of an arts center at the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle farmstead. The property off King George Road, with its farmhouse and barn on a beautiful riverside setting, was purchased by the township more than a decade ago. Years of discussion followed on how it might best be used. The Farmstead Arts center only officially opened last October.

Rosenblum, an attorney who said she is an active volunteer, came to the Farmstead Arts through her involvement in another role, with the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

In that capacity, she said she spoke to John Campbell, former president of the trustee board for the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle farmstead to request that the farmhouse and barn be added to the county's annual "Weekend Journey Through the Past." The Farmstead Arts this year has a full slate of activities planned for the weekend, which is this Saturday and Sunday.

For more information on that event, and last week's ARTsee tour, which involved the Farmstead Arts,

Rosenblum is now president of the Board of Trustees for the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead property as a whole. She said she is no longer officially program coordinator, be she still arranges programming, which has included a variety of musical performances. Rosenblum said she represents some top-level musicians in her professional life as well.

The longtime township resident is quick to cast herself as just one of a group of hard-working volunteers who brought the vision of the Farmstead Arts to life.

For example, she said Campbell was primarily responsible — although she helped — in writing a successful grant application so it can be used for performing arts, and meets handicapped-access standards.

She said she would like to see that next step take place by 2013, but there are many other improvements she would like to see at the center. For example, nice track lighting in the gallery space in just one more step in creating a top-flight arts center, she said.

"We will have to fundraise for that," she said.

Rosenblum said Pete Hall, vice-president of operations, built the kitchen and bathroom in the farmhouse, and is another essential contributor to the opening of the farmhouse as the main building, for now, at the arts center.

Volunteer Kristina Lloyd is gallery coordinator; Janet Smith, as treasurer, keeps finances in orders; and township artist Caren Frost Olmstead, along with photographer Hillary Klimek, were among the creative artists who fulfilled that part of the plan for the art center, she said.

About seven or eight core volunteers put in many hours, she said. One of the challenges at this stage of the game, she said, is to avoid burning out those volunteers who are basically providing professional consultation to create a professional-standards art center.

The Farmstead Arts always is looking for more volunteers to share — or create — new roles, she said. "I would love to get someone who is a professional marketer," she said.

As for herself, Rosenblum said she would love to get to the point where she can concentrate more fully on the programming for the performing arts.

"That's where my true love lies," she said.

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