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First Night Worcester’s Joyce Kressler

Joyce Kressler

Joyce Kressler

By Dawn Fenton

Joyce Kressler, Executive Director of First Night Worcester, is in her 11th year with the organization that has graced the streets of downtown Worcester on New Year’s Eve for an incredible 27 years.

A longtime Worcester resident, Kressler told Vitality Magazine that First Night Worcester has been a part of her family’s tradition long before she was hired in 1998.

“My husband and I always looked forward to it as celebrants. We came with family and friends and enjoyed ourselves every time.”

With a BFA in Fine Arts from Boston University and a degree in Education, Kressler taught studio arts at Oxford High School for five years before leaving to raise her two children. She has dabbled in freelance arts consulting and had served on a number of non-profit boards prior to joining First Night Worcester.

“The mission of First Night Worcester has always been to bring the community together through the arts…to develop future artists and patrons of the arts, and to develop community spirit starting with the younger generations. It is a way to embrace everyone, from every background and every age, and to expose them to the arts.”

Since the millennium, First Night Worcester has enjoyed over 300 workshops and collaborations with area schools. “It is pretty astounding,” said Kressler, “This year alone we have partnerships with over 50 schools. We provide professional development workshops for the teachers. We meet with arts liaisons and talk about the kinds of programs they would like to have First Night help bring into their schools.”

The theme of First Night 2009 is “Where the Arts Make Magic.” Now imagine this if you will: thousands of business cards folded into cubes. Now think hundreds of cubes. Thousands of cubes! Envision these business card cubes arranged to create the largest business card origami sculpture ever.

“The finished sculpture will be of Union Station,” explained Kressler. “Each school has a segment to construct…the goal of these programs is getting the kids to creatively problem solve and work together as teams. They contribute in a way that is larger than they are.”

The final Union Station origami sculpture will be on display at the Worcester Art Museum as a part of the First Night Worcester celebration on December 31st. The purchase of a First Night button will provide admission to more than 100 dance, music, comedy, theater and magic performances. A complete listing and additional information can be found at Be sure to check out the link to You Cubed while you are there at

“Arts to me are the great equalizer,” said Kressler. “The lens through which I see the world is colored by the arts.”

First Night Worcester is truly fortunate to have Joyce Kressler on board. Her passion for the arts and her ambition to bring the arts into the schools makes her an enormous asset to the organization, not to mention all those who look forward to the First Night celebration each New Year’s Eve.

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