Spotlight on Jerri Ann Jones - VIA Metropolitan Transit Coordinator

Jerri Ann Jones is the Community Relations Coordinator for VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, Texas. Jerri Ann did a tremendous job organizing the First Annual NAP Exhibition for VIA employees and their family members, often going above and beyond to make sure that everyone involved had a positive experience with the program.
One employee who worked on the exhibition with Jerri Ann was so thrilled with the event that he even used some of his award money to establish a website dedicated to highlighting their annual NAP exhibitions. The website included images of all the artwork as well as photographs from the award reception.
The NAP is excited to see what the future holds for VIA and is pleased to feature Jerri Ann as our March spotlight.
Q. What makes the National Arts Program® different than any other art exhibit VIA offers?
A. VIA has always been very supportive of the arts and I have been fortunate to coordinate the majority of the art programs. For the last 16 years I have organized an annual citywide youth art contest open to area students Pre-K through 12th grade and we receive nearly 9,000 entries. There are 2 winners from each grade and all the artwork is displayed in the VIA buses turning them into traveling art galleries. This past year, I was contacted by the National Poetry Month Committee to conduct a “Poetry on the Move” Contest. Ten poems are selected from over 200 entries to place on our buses for passengers to enjoy as well. This year we are working with 4 local youth art programs to have them create the artwork to depict each poem. A bus with the winning poems and artwork will be highlighted at a city art festival, Luminaria this month and then on our fleet throughout the month of April. 
When I learned of the National Arts Program® I was excited to be able to coordinate a contest and exhibit that features the talents of VIA’s very own employees and families! 
Q. Why do you feel that displaying employee artwork is important?
A. VIA has such a diverse workforce that includes operators, maintenance and administration. It was wonderful to see all participants come together and let their talents shine. The exhibit gave many their first opportunity to see their artwork displayed in a gallery setting.
Q. How have employees and their families responded to the opportunity to display their artwork in a professional gallery setting?
A. The response has been extremely positive. The gallery opening coincided with a local neighborhood art night and brought a lot of public through to view the artwork. It was such a rewarding experience for all those that attended. 
Q. Why do you think displaying employee artwork in a public setting is so important?
A. Showcasing these hidden talents of the employees gave everyone the opportunity to learn more about their co-workers and brought a sense of community to the participants. The winning pieces will soon be displayed in our main administrative building and will give even more employees the chance to enjoy the artwork and learn about the program. 
Q. What is your favorite aspect of the National Arts Program®?
A. The NAP made this employee art exhibit possible and a reality. It was a pleasure to work with such a professional staff and they were there to help me every step of the way.  
Q. Do visitors to the gallery respond to the exhibit?
A. Since the exhibit was held at a local gallery separate from our facility, I was unable to hear firsthand the comments from visitors after the opening night. The gallery owner reported that the response was favorable. I am looking forward to hearing the response once the winning artwork is displayed in our own facility. 
Q. How has utilizing online registration made the process easier for you?
A. The online registration made it very easy to do mailings, labels and I especially liked the statistics that were readily available if needed. 
Q. Can you tell us how art has had a positive impact on your personal life?
A. Throughout the past 16 years working with the various contests and the art community, I have received so much support and made so many amazing, creative friends! I have learned from each of them and they have all enriched my life. 
Q. How did you get started in the art field or have you always been involved in the arts? Are you an artist yourself?
A. As a child I carried around my tablet and was always drawing. I won an art contest in first grade and was hooked. I took art classes throughout middle and high school but did not pursue it any further. I have worked at VIA for over 25 years and have held positions from finance to wellness. It is exciting that life has taken me full circle and I am blessed to have a job that I love! I am now fascinated with photography and enjoy it as a hobby. 
Q. Is there anything else you want to add? Comments about the program, etc.
A. I am very impressed with the National Arts Program® and its purpose and I am looking forward to watching our exhibit grow over the years to come!
VIA Metropolitan Transit