The 2019 Connecticut General Assembly session ended in June, and it included a few significant wins and changes for the creative sector.
The most encouraging legislative development was the name change of the Tourism Caucus to the Arts, Culture and Tourism Caucus . The unanimous vote for the name change recognizes the important impact that arts and culture, along with tourism, have on our state. Our thanks to Senator Paul Formica and Representative Dorinda Borer for co-chairing this nonpartisan group of members of the General Assembly who meet to pursue common objectives. CAA’s own continued alliance with the Connecticut Tourism Coalition, the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, Connecticut Humanities, and the Connecticut Restaurant Association will also benefit CAA in our future advocacy efforts.
A bill recently receiving the Governor’s signature allows municipalities to create cultural districts , thereby increasing visibility and awareness of municipal cultural institutions and encouraging economic development. Another bill requiring the licensing of art therapists was incorporated into the general budget legislation and signed by the Governor.
State funding for the arts was maintained at a flat rate, in recognition of the importance of our creative sector despite a need to reduce state spending due to significant budget deficits. An increase in the percentage of lodging tax revenue going toward arts, culture and tourism, however, was not achieved.
Through a bill recommended by the House Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tourism, the state is also reopening welcome centers , and those centers are already accepting brochures and rack cards from state arts, culture and tourism attractions. The same Blue Ribbon bill estalished an administrative Connecticut Tourism Council within DECD.
The state has also confirmed a permanent leadership position in the Office of the Arts , still within the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). Elizabeth Shapiro, who had been Interim Director for nine months, is now the Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums.
Thank you to our CAA members and others who contributed their voices and efforts to our advocacy work this past session. In the coming year, among other goals, we will continue to invite legislators to join the Arts, Culture and Tourism Caucus, and we will advocate for increased state funding with the Tourism Fund coalition.