(TRENTON, NJ) -- The New Jersey State Council on the Arts awarded more than $35.6 million in grants to support more than 700 arts organizations, projects, and artists throughout the state. The grants were approved at the Arts Council's 55th Annual Meeting, held virtually. The awards announced on July 27, 2021 were part of the largest state appropriation the Council has ever received in its 55-year history – $31.9 million as part of the state budget approved by Governor Murphy last month. Today’s grant awards also included $7.5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds, which were signed into law by Governor Murphy earlier this year as part of a multi-bill package aimed at economic recovery.
Secretary of State Tahesha Way addressed attendees at the meeting, commending their creativity and resiliency during the pandemic. "The innovation New Jersey’s arts community has shown over these last 16 months is absolutely awe-inspiring,” said Secretary Way. “The arts have been a crucial source of healing and connection throughout the pandemic, and I am proud to work closely with the State Arts Council as they lead the field with responsive grants and services so people can continue to enjoy and engage with New Jersey arts.”
According to a collaborative study of the arts sector, led by ArtPride NJ, New Jersey nonprofit arts organizations have lost more than $100 million and counting due to pandemic-related closures, cancellations, and lost contributed and earned revenue. When the arts sector is open and thriving, it generates more than $660 million in economic activity statewide, employs nearly 22,000 workers, and engages more than 8.3 million people who stay in hotels, and eat and shop locally. For more on the important role the arts play in recovery, visit KeepJerseyArtsAlive.org.
“We are grateful to Governor Murphy and the legislature for this monumental increase in funding and for recognizing the need for robust public support of the arts right now,” said Council Chair Elizabeth Mattson. “This funding is not only vital to ensuring the arts can continue to move forward and innovate, but will support important work to foster a more equitable and inclusive arts community. We know there is still much work to be done, and we look forward to working alongside our partners and colleagues in the field as we embark on a new chapter together.”
While $35.6 million of the Council’s budget was voted on today, a remaining $4.1 million will be granted out later this year as part of a new capital needs-based program. Details about these resiliency grants will be shared in the coming weeks.
In line with the Council’s priority to helping achieve field-wide stability and recovery, multi-year commitments and statewide service initiatives for the field have been increased. In line with the Council’s priority to broaden access and impact, funding for the Council’s Local Arts Program – which serves all 21 counties through County Arts Agencies – has been tripled. To lessen the administrative burden for grantees, requirements have been temporarily amended, as feasible.
As always, grant program guidelines are shaped by field needs, and applications are evaluated by independent panels to eliminate the possibility for conflict of interest. Funding decisions are made through a process designed to ensure transparency, fairness, and access.
In addition to announcing grant awards, the meeting also included the swearing-in of the newest member of the Council board, Gina Hulings.
"I am honored to be able to be able to work with such an incredible group of people who are passionately dedicated to and inspired by the arts and all that they encompass,” said Ms. Hulings. “I look forward to serving the field and the State through my appointment to the Council. The mission and beliefs of the Council are something I will strive to not only uphold, but will wholeheartedly advocate for in any way I can."
The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, created in 1966, is a division of the NJ Department of State. The Council was established to encourage and foster public interest in the arts; enlarge public and private resources devoted to the arts; promote freedom of expression in the arts; and facilitate the inclusion of art in every public building in New Jersey. The Council receives direct appropriations from the State of New Jersey through a dedicated, renewable Hotel/Motel Occupancy fee, as well as competitive grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.