March 22, 2016


image001A crowd of more than 350 arts workers, arts advocates, high-school students, performers, legislators and government officials celebrated the power of the arts to transform individual lives and stimulate the state’s economy at the first CT Arts Day in 20 years. Kristina Newman-Scott, Director of Culture for the State of CT, pushed for the concept of this gathering and rallied the indefatigable team at the Office of the Arts to make it happen.  The Office of the Arts collaborated with other organizations, including the Connecticut Arts Alliance and the nine regional cultural councils in the state.

“One of the outstanding and unforgettable aspects of this day-long gathering was hearing passionate testimony from our elected representatives about the transformative power of the arts,” stated Kristina Newman-Scott. From DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith to Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, who declared March 2nd CT Arts Day permanently, to Senators Beth Bye, Bob Duff, Tony Hwang, Representatives Robyn Porter and Matt Ritter – all testified to the power of the arts in their lives, to the arts being significantly instrumental in the state’s economy, and to the critical importance of intensifying the presence of the arts in our schools. Representative Roberta Willis also spoke up during a panel discussion, emphasizing the importance of the arts and how the regional cultural councils keep their communities connected with the arts.  Lt. Gov. Wyman in particular strongly endorsed the concept of STEAM (adding the arts to STEM curriculum).

Jay Dick from the Americans for the Arts in Washington DC spoke to the crowd about the economic impact of the arts, pointing out that the arts sector is the second, only to government, in Connecticut regarding number of employees.  Artist Titus Kaphar shared his story of struggling through the educational system only to bloom later as a successful artist graduating from Yale.  Theo Edmunds, co-founder of Ideas  XLab, gave the keynote address, which was sponsored by Cigna, at the end of the day, relaying instances when artists have made an impact in various non-arts industries and sectors.

Two workshops – one on advocacy and one on economic impact – were standing room only.  There were performances sprinkled throughout the scheduled gatherings, including dance, poetry, song, and theater.  There were different speed-presentations given by artists and organizations in three groups of six from throughout the state, telling with slide-shows, stories of how they approached transformative community projects and programs.  In addition to the scheduled activities, attendees networked with one another and found information about the Office of the Arts, the Office of Preservation, the CT Arts Alliance and the nine regional cultural councils.

Connecticut Arts Day was presented by the CT Office of the Arts in collaboration with the Connecticut Arts Alliance, Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Arts & Culture Collaborative of Waterbury, Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County, Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut, Greater Hartford Arts Council, Northwest Connecticut Arts Council, Shoreline Arts Alliance,   Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition, and Windham Arts.

OP-Ed piece from the Danbury News Times

Connecticut Arts Day

The Connecticut Office of the Arts in partnership with our nine Designated Regional Service Organizations, The Culture and Tourism Advisory Committee, The Connecticut Arts Council and the Connecticut Arts Alliance is organizing the first State hosted Arts Day in over a decade. Connecticut Arts Day, “Moving the Arts from Nice to Necessary” will be held on March 2, 2016, 9 a.m – 4 p.m., and will bring together a broad cross section of policy makers, arts, cultural and creative industry organizations and individuals from across Connecticut to the State Capitol.

The Connecticut Office of the Arts has been investing in Connecticut’s arts economy for over 50 years and this is your opportunity to join us to celebrate the significant role that the arts have and continue to play in our state.

Registration is now open, however, space is limited so please reserve your tickets early. Click here to register

January 7, 2016


December brought some great federal funding news.   Thanks to Americans for the Arts for this update:

The budget for the NEA was increased to $147.949 million – to the President’s request. Earlier this year, both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House proposals were to level-fund the NEA for the fifth year in a row, but the success of the 2-year budget agreement to “raise the caps” enabled additional funding to reach the agency.

The budget for the U.S. Department of Educations’ Arts in Education program also increased to $27 million—a $2 million increase. In recent years this program had received level-funding and had also seen proposals for termination, but arts advocates once again made the case and in the next authorization beginning in Fiscal Year 2017, it continues under the “Assistance for Arts Education” program enacted under ESSA- the Every Student Succeeds Act, now signed into law.

On charitable giving, the non-profit arts community has been pursuing making permanent the IRA Charitable Rollover for over decade. Permanence will give certainty and spur new and increased charitable donations to social service programs, religious organizations, arts and culture institutions, schools, healthcare providers, and the full array of nonprofits that serve Americans every day. The eligibility in the agreement is the same as previous law: 70 ½ years of age and a maximum of up to $100,000 given directly to a charity of choice per taxpayer in any tax year.

December 21, 2015

Deficit Mitigation Agreement Reached

On December 1, 2015 the legislature passed a $350 million state budget deficit mitigation agreement. The Governor had proposed a plan that included drastic cuts to the arts sector (eliminating all line item allocations to arts and culture organizations), but the approved legislative plan made less severe, across-the-board-cuts of 5% to the arts grants in the Arts Office budget as well as direct service agreements. These cuts fall on the heels another 5% rescission made by Governor earlier in the fall.

DECD cuts can be found on pgs.  7- 10 of the bill

Good News for Arts Education
On December 10, 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law by President Obama, replacing No Child Left Behind. This new law is a victory for arts education retaining the arts as a “core academic subject”  This definition has been critical to helping bring time and resources to arts education in schools—and help close the gaps in access to a complete education for every child that includes the arts. Additionally the law includes the following provisions:

Dedicated funding for arts education through the “Assistance for Arts Education” grant program
Inclusion of the arts in the “Well-Rounded Education” definition with over a dozen references in the bill ensuring, among other things, that the arts continue to be eligible for Title I funds—the largest federal funding source to local educational agencies and schools.
Integration of the arts in STEM programs – recognized in the field as “STEM to STEAM”

Connecticut Arts Day planned for March 2, 2016
The Connecticut Office of the Arts, in partnership with the Connecticut Arts Alliance and our 9 regional service organizations, are planning to bring back Connecticut Arts Day at the Capitol on March 2nd, 2016. The last time this event took place was in 2002! Anyone interested in our Arts and Cultural Sector are invited to attend Arts Day to celebrate and underscore the importance of investing in Connecticut’s Arts and Cultural landscape to our legislators.

April 6, 2015

How the Tax Code Hurts Artists
April 1st editorial from the NY Times

March 3, 2015

Connecticut  Arts Alliance (CAA) Response to 2016-17 Governor’s Budget Proposal as of March  2, 2015

The CAA monitors trends in state funding in annual competitive grant programs, the availability of arts funding for operating support, and legislative designated funds for specific arts organizations.  The CAA also collectively and individually assists and advises the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD)/Office of the Arts and participates in various arts-related committees.  We are familiar with the State budget process and recognize that the Governor’s Budget Proposal is also an invitation for legislative and public dialogue resulting in a final document that reflects the best interests of all parties in these difficult times.  While there is much to be alarmed about in this Budget Proposal, it is an opportunity for the arts sector and their constituents and partners, along with the legislative and executive branches, to more deeply deliberate and specifically allocate State resources for the final budget.

The Numbers
In this Governor’s administration, Arts, Culture, and Tourism funding is subsumed under the Department of Economic Development comprising about 53% of the DECD’s annual budget.  The Governor’s proposed budget cuts   Arts, Culture and Tourism by about 32% from the previous year, about $7.6 million dollars.  The Arts and Culture sectors in aggregate are being cut 40%.  The total DECD budget is proposed to decrease by 20%.  However, 88% of that decrease is on the backs of arts, cultural and tourism agencies and institutions.

In addition, the Governor’s DECD budget proposes to eliminate almost all legislatively-designated grants (Line Items), a total of $9.5 million in annual grants for major anchor institutions in every major cultural community throughout the State – except for the Amistad Vessel.   This does not even include the total elimination of the $2,049,752 budget for the CT Humanities Council, a critical partner and anchor for the arts, culture, tourism and education sectors.

The Governor’s budget proposes a reduction by about 16% off all arts funding, by eliminating $4.9million in legislatively-designated grants, and increasing the Arts Commission line item allocation by $3.9 million. The arts sector has on average been flat-funded since 2004.  The total funding for the Arts in the current year is 34% less than in FY2008.   In the Governor’s proposed budget the arts would receive 43% less than 2008.

The current arts funding of $6.7 million is .03% (3/100ths of 1%) of the entire State operating budget. The arts sector has operated extremely efficiently in very difficult times.  There reaches a point where once the financial oxygen becomes so depleted, long-term damage occurs, with multiplying negative effects on every aspect of the economic, educational and cultural quality of life of the state.

This budget proposes significant reductions to arts funding that will weaken the State’s cultural capacity at a time when it is most essential for near-term statewide economic recovery.   Decreasing and even flat funding will cause organizations to close, and jobs and programs to be eliminated at a time when cultural assets are critical tools to help protect the quality-of-life safety net, provide critical educational support for public schools, strengthen tourism in the face of increase out-of-state competition, and attract new innovative businesses and jobs.

The Office of the Arts
CAA as an organization and its member institutions have worked hard to support the staff, policy-making and program management of the Office of the Arts since it lost its status as a Commission of the Arts and became a smaller office when it was folded into DECD.   The arts sector recognizes the difficulties the Office of the Arts has faced coping with wholesale changes in policies and programs, with a $1.8 million arts budget.  In discussions with the Commissioner of DECD, it has been asserted that the Office of the Arts will not be seeing any additions beyond its currently skeletal staff.  In fact, the Office of the Arts will require even greater support and assistance from the CAA, the state’s regional arts councils, and the very institutions whose funds are once again being cut if not altogether eliminated in this proposed budget.  Wholesale change in the redistribution of dwindling appropriations at a time of fiscal austerity is most likely unwise and counterproductive.

To best support the social, cultural, educational and economic revitalization of Connecticut in 2016-17, the Board of CAA urges the General Assembly  to consider these following recommendations regarding the Biennial Budget:

1. Maintain the funding for the state-designated competitive grant programs in the Arts Commission to at least the current amount of $1.8 million.  Significant increases for Arts Commission granting are desired if sufficient COA staff and professional policy direction is provided.

2. Ensure that Arts Commission grant-making policies are consistent, fair and comprehensive and support and preserve existing cultural assets while allowing for new initiatives, with the necessary staff resources to best manage its grant-making and arts services.

3. Maintain support for legislatively designated annual funds for arts producing, presenting and service organizations by returning the $4.8 million in arts line items cut in the Governors’ Budget.  These arts line items maximize the efficiency, consistency, and impact of these grants in service to the public. Line items and Arts Commission grants are essential complements of the State funding policy.

4. Protect the Connecticut Arts Endowment Fund.  Allocate the previously authorized investments into the fund, and return to investing annually at least $500,000 a year. The last allocation to increase the fund was in 2003 in the amount of $1 million.

5.  Support state bonding to finance the capital improvement, restoration and modernization of cultural facilities.

6.  Expand on new joint arts-in-education initiatives and partnerships between the Department of Education and arts and cultural institutions to increase student achievement and educational excellence in the State’s public schools.

is the leading statewide nonprofit arts advocacy organization seeking to broaden public and private understanding of and support for Connecticut arts and cultural policies and funding.  CAA is firmly committed to the critical importance of arts and cultural resources in attracting and retaining jobs and business investment, building vibrant communities, and nurturing student creativity and innovation in our schools.

Our priorities are aligned with the National Governors’ Association, which states “arts and culture are important to state economies.  Arts and culture-related industries, also known as ‘creative industries,’ provide direct economic benefits to states and communities.  They create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases.”

The rich array of Connecticut arts and cultural organizations, together with the contribution of individual artists and the creative industries, contributes significantly to the vitality of communities large and small.  Over 22 million people per year experience Connecticut’s cultural attractions.  The arts and culture sector generates 3.8 billion in gross state product annually.  Like for-profit entities, these organizations maximize limited resources to sustain and grow operations.  But unlike their private counterparts, they are rooted in Connecticut’s communities and will not relocate to take advantage of more desirable business incentives or lower labor costs.  Connecticut’s arts and cultural organizations that employ 40,000 people – 18,314 full-time equivalent jobs – will contribute significantly to Connecticut’s revitalization long into the future

February 26, 2015

Governor’s Proposed Biennial Budget Seriously Impacts the Arts

Governor Malloy introduced his proposed FY16-17 Budget on February 18, 2015

His proposal includes many cuts to the arts and humanities

Department of Economic Development Reductions:

  • Reduce Funding for Various Arts/Cultural Line Items:  Reduces funding for various arts and cultural programs and reallocates the balance to the Arts Commission for competitive disbursement: FY 16 ($3,094,957) FY 17 ($3,094,957)
  • Eliminate Funding for Various Grants:  Eliminates funding for various grants including Women’s Business Center, Dream It. Do It., OpSail, Schooner, Stamford Parade, Main Street Initiatives, Neighborhood Music School, Nutmeg Games, Litchfield Jazz Festival, Connecticut Invention Convention and New Haven Symphony: FY 16 ($1,373,378) FY 17 ($1,373,378)
  • Annualize FY 2015 Rescissions: FY 16 ($704,579) FY 17 ($704,579)
  • Reduce Funding for Statewide Marketing: FY 16 ($2,000,000) FY 17 ($2,000,000)
  • Eliminate Funding for Tourism Districts: FY 16 ($1,513,924) FY 17 ($1,513,924)

DECD Reallocations:

  • Reallocate Funding for Various Arts/Cultural Accounts to Arts Commission: $5,707,939 (from $1,707,939 in FY15)

State Library

  • Eliminate Funding for Connecticut Humanities

Analysis courtesy of Connecticut Association of Non-profits. For their complete analysis, visit


Appropriations Committee public hearing for the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) budget will be held on Monday, March 2nd as follows:

-DECD Budget Presentation: 10:30 – 11:15 AM (LOB, Room 2C)

-Public Budget Hearings (Room 2C) 6:30 PM (Room 2C)

December 15, 2014

Update on Federal Arts Funding from Americans for the Arts
No Cuts to the NEA in Omnibus Bill

With only two hours to spare before the federal government was scheduled to shutdown at midnight last night, the House of Representatives was able to narrowly pass the so-called “Cromnibus” (a hybrid Continuing Resolution and Omnibus bill) by a vote of 219-206. Now in the Senate’s hands, the enormous $1.1 trillion catch-all bill funds the federal government through the balance of the fiscal year to September 30, 2015, with the exception of Homeland Security which is funded only through February of next year due to political gamesmanship on immigration issues.

Thanks to effective advocacy efforts, arts funding will be kept level and stable. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities will each receive $146 million. The Office of Museum Services will remain at $30 million and the Arts in Education program within the U.S. Department of Education will also stay at $25 million, despite threats of being zeroed-out.  Similarly, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS, NPR) will be level-funded at $445 million.

Additionally, the House of Representatives was unable to pass a permanent extension of three charitable giving provisions, including the IRA roll-over to charities.

For more info, visit

November 21, 2014

Budget Update from Connecticut Association of Nonprofits, November 14, 2014

Governor Malloy Orders Emergency Budget Cuts, Restricts State Hiring to Combat SFY15 Deficit

In response to the looming $60 million revenue shortfall and $80 million budget ‘deficiencies’ or cost over-runs among stateagencies, Governor Malloy ordered emergency spending cuts
effective immediately. A memo from OPM reinforced the urgency of the matter in regard to state employee overtime work, new [state employee] hiring, and potential rescissions, or across-the-board spending cuts.

The administration has also put state contracting on hold, barring agencies from entering into new contracts and from extending or adding funds to existing contracts. In addition to executive branch agencies, OPM is requesting that higher education units, constitutional offices, and judicial and legislative branch agencies implement similar measures.

Last month, Secretary Barnes projected that the state would end the year with a $300,000 surplus. The figure was certified by state Comptroller Kevin Lembo on Nov. 1, but that was before the November consensus revenue estimates were released showing that federal grants, the gas tax, and gambling revenues were lagging behind the state’s projections.

As you may recall, Governor Malloy issued similar cuts two years ago this month to offset an even larger budget deficit. As a reminder, existing law gives the Governor statutory authority to rescind [cut] up to 5% of any line item and 3% of any fund without seeking legislative changes to the state budget. Note:Municipal aid, debt service, and state employee salaries and benefits are excluded from rescissions.

We will continue to monitor the Administration’s response and will provide the latest updates.

July 17, 2014

Congressional Updates from Americans for the Arts

July 15 – The House Subcommittee on the Interior had proposed an $8 million cut each from the FY 2015 budgets of the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We’re really pleased to report that when this bill came before the Full Appropriations Committee today, the Interior Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) announced that he had made some “manager’s amendments” to the bill. He restored the cuts to the two federal cultural agencies and now the bill moves to the House floor with a $146 million recommendation for the NEA and NEH each.

July 17 – One more piece of good legislative news coming out of Washington, DC this week. The House of Representatives passed a bill 277-130 to make permanent a series of charitable tax provisions. Specifically, two of these provisions will help nonprofit arts organizations raise private donations while offering individual taxpayers enhanced tax deductions. It’s a win-win situation. If these provisions also get passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, they would do the following:

· Extend through April 15 the deadline for claiming charitable donations on the previous year’s tax filing.

· Encourage taxpayers 70.5 years of age or older to make a charitable donation by designating a charity to receive their automatic IRA distributions directly, instead of themselves, which would otherwise have been subject to income tax.