A headshot of Jessica Ball, set in front of a piece of art.As the newly appointed Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts, it’s my honor to introduce myself and share my excitement for what lies ahead. The Division of the Arts has long been dedicated to fostering creativity and supporting the arts in Delaware, with a mission to enhance the quality of life for all residents.

Taking over for the legendary Paul Weagraff, I bring a unique perspective to the role as a seasoned arts advocate, administrator, and artist. As the Executive Director of the Delaware Arts Alliance (DAA), I led the organization by collaborating with leaders in arts and culture to develop statewide advocacy strategies that advance the sector.

But, what many may not know is that I am also a maker, a creator, an artist at heart. I bring this passion to my new role as I work with the Division’s enthusiastic staff to create a new operational plan that prioritizes cultural equity and innovation. My connection to the arts runs deep, starting from my grandparents who met at art school and raised me surrounded by creativity. From them, I learned to draw, paint, carve, and knit, and to this day, I use my art as a form of self-expression and stress relief. My grandfather taught me that there are no mistakes in art, only opportunities for creative innovation, a lesson that has never been more relevant than in the last 22 months.

In the face of the pandemic, the arts have proven to be resilient and transformative, with many organizations and artists pivoting to new ways of engaging audiences and delivering their craft. However, the pandemic has also shed light on the importance of cultural equity and access to ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to participate in a vibrant and diverse creative life.

At the Delaware Division of the Arts, we understand that Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) are the key to a successful and sustainable future for the arts. That’s why we’re proud to launch the Arts Equity and Innovation Incubator, a program that provides technical assistance and resources to organizations to help integrate these principles into all aspects of their operations.

We’ve also created the new role of Community Engagement Officer, filled by Leeann Wallet, who will work to address the issues of IDEA in our granting, services, and processes, with a focus on reaching all Delawareans, especially those from BIPOC communities.

As we look ahead, I’m confident that together, we can build a brighter future for the arts in Delaware and create a more perfect state through the power of creativity. I’m eager to embark on this journey with all of you and can’t wait to see what we’ll accomplish together.

We are all excited for the Division’s future. To learn more about the Division’s future goals and plans, please review the new strategic plan, Cultivating Creativity: 2021-2025.

About Director Ball

Jessica Ball was appointed Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts in 2021. In her position, she oversees all aspects of managing a state agency committed to supporting the arts and cultivating creativity to enhance the quality of life in Delaware.

Jessica brings a collaborative, progressive, transparent approach to arts leadership and administration. Adept at creating and sustaining partnerships across private, government, and creative sectors she facilitates initiatives that expand access to the transformative power of the arts and arts education. Jessica is dedicated to strengthening the cultural sector and growing the creative economy and workforce.

Before becoming the Director of DDOA Jessica was the Executive Director of the Delaware Arts Alliance. There, she developed sector wide strategies to advance arts and culture. She worked with cultural, community, and civic leaders on policy and funding initiatives to ensure that the creative sector is vibrant.

Jessica graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design with dual master’s degrees in Historic Preservation and Landscape Architecture. She has a Bachelor of Architecture from Florida International University. She spent the first part of her career in the fields of design and architecture. She is a visual artist, artisan, and co-founder of Handmade Modern Accessories–a Women and Black-owned creative business. Her diverse background gives her perspective on the importance of arts and culture’s positive impacts on communities.

Jessica serves on the board of Mid-Atlantic Arts and volunteers on the Young Founders Committee of the Delaware Fund for Women and the Planning Committee for the Delaware MillSummit young professionals conference.