March 3, 2015

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

PERSPECTIVE ON GOVERNOR’S 2016-17 BIENNIUM BUDGET and the OFFICE OF THE ARTS
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.

PRIORITY RECOMMENDATIONS for 2016-17 Budget
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.


THE CONNECTICUT ARTS ALLIANCE (CAA)
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

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2 Comments

  1. “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.”
    If one was to thoroughly examine how grants were distributed under the auspices of the DECD utilizing the smokescreen booklet “Creative Placemaking” and then compare the reality of how & where – one would find a troubling disparity that lends credibility to the statement “political payback”.
    Should one dare ask” Why is grant monies being given to communities – some of which qualify as ” high income” – while other communities that qualify as low-income are TOTALLY ignored???”

    Reply
  1. The Show Must Go On | The 2015 Connecticut Arts Budget

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