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2023 Delaware Arts Summit: Our Creative Collective

Monday, October 9, 2023
Hyatt Place Dewey Beach, 1301 Coastal Hwy, Dewey Beach, DE 19971
8:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. | Networking Reception 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Registration:  $55

OPTIONAL PRECONFERENCE: Sunday, October 8, 2023
Hyatt Place Dewey Beach, 1301 Coastal Hwy, Dewey Beach, DE 19971
Begins at 4:30 p.m.
Separate Registration:  $20


Are you an artist, arts patron, or arts educator? Do you work in arts administration or arts programming? Do you volunteer at an arts organization? If you’re interested in the arts, then you belong at the Delaware Arts Summit!

The Arts Summit brings Delaware’s arts community together for a day of speakers, workshops, performances and networking. It’s about skill building as well as expanding contacts and enjoying the arts.

Reflection, Renewal, and Rejuvenation are goals for this year’s Arts Summit as we move beyond the challenges of the past several years. The Summit will provide time, sessions, and experiences designed to make us stronger individually and as organizations by promoting mindfulness, stress reduction, better internal and external communications, and methods to manage uncertainty. Let’s come together to unify and strengthen our creative collective, because the stronger we are, the greater our impact!



Due to overwhelming demand, the pre-conference is sold out.  There are a limited number of conference registration slots still available for Monday, October 9. To register for Monday’s conference activities, please email Dana Wise at by noon on Friday, September 22.


Sunday, October 8 (optional pre-conference)     

4:30-5:30 p.m. – Reception at Rehoboth Art League

6:30 p.m. – Dinner gathering at Hyatt Place

Affinity groups; Delaware Division of the Arts Highlights

8:00 p.m. – Evening Networking

Beach bonfire; S’mores and beverages; Networking

Monday, October 9

8:45 a.m. – Registration and Breakfast

9:30 a.m. – Welcome

Jessica Ball, Director, Delaware Division of the Arts

J. Mack Wathen, Chair, Delaware State Arts Council

Neil Kirschling, Executive Director, Delaware Arts Alliance

9:45 a.m. – Performance by TAHIRA with Darnell Miller

10:15-11:30 a.m. – Concurrent Sessions

The Art of Stress Transformation, Dori Kelner

Relationship Building as Praxis; one conversation at a time, Rebecca Mwase

How to Tell Arts Stories that Resonate Widely, Patricia Rivera

Managing Uncertainty, Benjamin Wagner

11:45-12:45 p.m. – Lunch and Remarks

The Honorable John Carney, Governor (invited)

The Honorable Bethany Hall Long, Lt. Governor (invited)

The Honorable Jeffrey W. Bullock, Secretary of State (invited)

Performance by IVA with Geoff Bennington

12:45-1:30 p.m. – Featured Artist Talk with Roberto Lugo: The Village Potter

1:45-3:00 p.m. – Concurrent Sessions

The Art of Stress Transformation, Dori Kelner

Relationship Building as Praxis; one conversation at a time, Rebecca Mwase

How to Tell Arts Stories that Resonate Widely, Patricia Rivera

Managing Uncertainty, Benjamin Wagner

3:00-4:00 p.m. – Reception

The Art of Stress Transformation

Dori Kelner, Founder, Insightful Culture, Washington, DC

In this interactive session we will explore the profound connection between stress reduction and unleashing professional creativity. Delve into the science of stress as we engage in creative activities that ignite self-awareness, fuel innovative thinking, and unveil fresh perspectives within your work. Embrace the harmony between these forces to enhance your well-being, unlock your full potential, and cultivate a powerful mindset of professional creativity.

Together, we’ll discover how nurturing a creative mindset leads to increased productivity, breakthrough problem-solving, and remarkable professional growth. Join us for an inspiring experience that will empower you to thrive in your career!


Relationship Building as Praxis; one conversation at a time

Rebecca Mwase, Founder, Desired Evolutions, Baltimore, MD

Schmoozing, team building, and community all have one thing in common: developing and maintaining relationships. The keys to creating and continuing any relationship are simple, and we all need a bit of support in engaging the practice of it in a fun, directed environment. Join Rebecca Mwase to learn the four C’s of Community Building that you can apply in any arena of your life: connection, communication, curiosity, and care.


How to Tell Arts Stories that Resonate Widely

Patricia Rivera, CEO and Founder, Hook PR & Marketing, Lewes, DE

Dive into the art of multicultural storytelling, the interactive ways of using symbols, words, or action to share a narrative. This workshop will help you understand how stories elevate arts organizations, strengthen communities, and unite people. You’ll:

  • Create goals around organizational storytelling
  • Understand your audience to create an authentic relationship
  • Use universal themes to create stories that resonate widely and unite
  • Decide on the effectiveness of each type of narrative
  • Apply storytelling strategies that drive action or transformation


Managing Uncertainty

Benjamin Wagner, Consultant, Creative and Founder of Essential Industries Incorporated, Wilmington, DE

In our post-pandemic world of hybrid work, heightened performance expectations, global unrest, and economic uncertainty, so many of us are chronically stressed.

In fact, The American Psychological Association reports that three-quarters of adult Americans state that stress negatively impacts their health. And more than a third of all Americans say that stress leaves them feeling completely overwhelmed every day.

What’s going on? And what can we do?

Practical lessons will be shared in addition to fresh insights on integrative medicine, neuroscience, and psychology, you’ll leave with simple tactics to change the way you manage everyday uncertainty – and evidence that positive change is meaningful and feasible.

There are two hotels available for guests looking to stay on Sunday or Monday evenings.


The Hyatt Place Dewey Beach

1301 Coastal Hwy, Dewey Beach, DE 19971

Sunday (10/8): $159/night

Monday (10/9): $129/night

The cut-off date to book rooms is September 15th, 2023. After that date, the group rate is not guaranteed.

Book online here or by calling 1-855-556-1297 and ask for the Delaware Division of the Arts rate (the group code is G-DDAR)


The Gold Leaf Hotel of Dewey Beach

1400 Coastal Hwy, Dewey Beach, DE 19971

Sunday (10/8): $149/night

Monday (10/9): $79/night

The cut-off date to book rooms is September 8th, 2023. After that date, the group rate is not guaranteed.

Book by calling 302-226-1100 and ask for the Delaware Division of the Arts rate.


A man with large pieces of pottery and a hat against a brick wallRoberto Lugo, Conference Featured Artist

Roberto Lugo is a Philadelphia-based artist, ceramicist, social activist, poet, and educator. Lugo utilizes classical pottery forms in conjunction with portraiture and surface design reminiscent of his North Philadelphia upbringing and Hip Hop culture to highlight themes of poverty, inequality, and racial injustice. Lugo’s works reimagine traditional European and Asian ceramics, adding a 21st-century street sensibility. Their hand-painted surfaces feature classic decorative patterns and motifs combined with elements of urban life, graffiti and portraits of individuals who have been historically absent from traditional luxury vessels, individuals such as Sojourner Truth, Dr. Cornel West, and The Notorious BIG, as well as Lugo’s family members and, very often, himself.

Lugo holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Penn State. His work has been featured in exhibitions at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, among others. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2019 Pew Fellowship, a Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Rome Prize, and a US Artist Award. His work is found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The High Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Walters Art Museum, and more. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Tyler School of Art and Architecture in Philadelphia, PA.


A woman with a black and blue shirt and glasses against a gray background.Dori Kelner, Principal, Insightful Culture

Dori Kelner is a seasoned tech professional who has seamlessly transitioned into the role of a corporate wellness advocate. Drawing from decades of experience in the high-pressure tech industry, Dori skillfully guides individuals and organizations towards holistic well-being, fostering a harmonious balance between the demands of the modern workplace and the cultivation of resilience, mindfulness, and personal growth.



A woman in a yellow shirt against a background of waterRebecca Mwase, Theater and performance artist, creative consultant, producer, educator and cultural organizer

Rebecca Mwase is a multi-disciplinary artist, ritualist, parent and community builder. My work is to midwife myself and others through sacred ceremonial processes that inspire, instigate and assist them to heal and become the most fully realized versions of themselves. Each process is an initiation for me, a birth/death/rebirth process that brings me closer to being my freest self. The containers I build and processes I lead support our progression towards a true sense of belonging in our bodies and in the ecosystem of our Earth.


A woman with black hair and a blue shirt against a white backgroundPatricia Rivera, CEO and Founder, Hook PR & Marketing

Patricia is Hook’s leader and visionary, providing high-level counsel to organizations throughout the mid-Atlantic – building their brands with strategic stories and content across multiple channels and in multiple languages. She founded Hook in 2007 after an award-winning career in journalism, working for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, and The News Journal. Patricia received the Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year Award from New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Minority-Owned Business of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.


A man with a blue shirt and glasses against a gray backgroundBenjamin Wagner, Founder, Essential Industries, Inc.

Benjamin Wagner is a consultant, creative and founder of Essential Industries Incorporated, a boutique coaching and consulting firm specializing in individual and organizational strategy, transformation and communications.

From his half-decade helping launch Facebook’s Journalism Project globally and his tenure transforming MTV News, to his award-winning PBS documentary, Mister Rogers & Me, podcast and forthcoming Friends & Neighbors documentary, Benjamin’s focus is the essential nature of our shared human experience.



A photo of a woman against a yellow background.TAHIRA

A 2023 Delaware Division of the Arts Master Fellow in Oral Literature, TAHIRA is a storyteller, musician, vocalist, and songwriter. She had the prestigious honor of performing at the internationally acclaimed festival PANAFEST, in Ghana, West Africa. TAHIRA is a Lifetime Member of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. and recipient of its highest service award, the Linda Jenkin Brown’s Nia Award.


A man holding a guitar with black hair and a beard. He is sitting in front of a green wall with paintings on it.Darnell Miller

Darnell Miller is a Delaware singer, songwriter, musician, producer, and arts educator. He released his first solo EP, “Jesus & Jameson,” on his own Hidden Palace Ent label. He has toured and played with gospel artists such as Tye Tribbett, Mary Mary, and Israel Houghton and has appeared on albums by Eric Roberson. The single, Freedom Call, written by TAHIRA and executive produced by Darnell, won the Delaware Public Media Best Collaboration Award in June 2021


IVA Headshot - a woman with blonde hair and a gold shirt against a gray wallIVA

IVA is a vocalist and songwriter with an ethereal quality to her powerful voice and a cinematic feel to her music. She is a versatile, eclectic artist, able to seamlessly move between genres due to the common thread of her sultry, dreamlike voice. Early on she signed her original music with Universal Sweden, performing on national TV and radio while making her debut at the Swedish Royal Opera. Now IVA is the youngest laureate of the Vasa Order’s Swedish American of the Year award. She’s been tapped “Who’s Next” by M Musicians Magazine, “supremely talented” by Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation, and featured in Billboard. She’s released her new EP record “Nobody’s Woman” in March of this year after making a breakthrough with “Run” in 2022 on Spotify and AAA radio.

Who should attend the Arts Summit?

Anyone working in, or interested in, the arts should attend! This includes artists; organization staff, board and volunteers; community leaders; program planners, educators; local and state officials; and arts patrons.


Where will the Summit be held?

The Summit will take place at the Hyatt Place Dewey Beach conveniently located at 1301 Coastal Hwy, Dewey Beach, DE 19971. The center is within easy driving distance of Wilmington, Delaware beach resorts, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Salisbury, MD.


What are the registration details and deadlines?
Please complete the online registration forms and submit payment electronically. Registration must be completed by the deadline of September 18. Note: If paying by intergovernmental voucher or check, contact Dana Wise, Delaware Division of the Arts at 302-577-8278, or by e-mail: to make payment arrangements.

Registrations submitted without payment are incomplete and cannot be processed.


What if I need to cancel my plans to attend?

Your registration fee will be refunded if you notify the Delaware Division of the Arts in writing of your cancellation. Notice must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, October 2, 2023. Send your cancellation request to Dana Wise, Delaware Division of the Arts by e-mail: or by fax: 302-577-6561.


Who sponsors this event?

The Arts Summit is produced and sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency committed to cultivating and supporting the arts in Delaware. This event is also made possible, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.


Previous Arts Summits

2019 | 2017 | 2015 | 2013 | 2011 | 2009 | 2007 | 2005