ACT Recommendations

Lamont-Bysiewicz Transition Arts, Culture and Tourism Policy Committee

In the days following their election on November 6, 2018, Governor-elect Ned Lamont and Lt. Governor-elect Susan Bysiewicz held a policy summit attended by more than 450 people, where they announced the creation of 15 committees that were each assigned a topic encompassing a wide-variety of critical state issues, including arts and culture. Dozens of Connecticut residents were named to serve on the committees, with their memberships specifically designed to incorporate as many viewpoints as possible. The committees were tasked with developing policy recommendations on their respective topics that the incoming Lamont-Bysiewicz administration could consider immediately upon taking the oath of office on January 9, 2019.

“This is a fresh start that none of us are going to squander. It starts right here with our policy teams. I don’t want this to be one of those things where you write a really great report and it ends up on some bookshelf somewhere. What a waste that would be. What a waste of all the talent we have in this room.” — Governor-elect Lamont at the policy summit.

Arts, Culture and Tourism (ACT) Policy Committee Recommendations

Recommendation # 1: New Investment Strategy

Connecticut is underfunding arts, culture and tourism while our surrounding states have strategically increased their investment post-Recession. This fiscal year, the lodging tax will generate $130M for Connecticut. Most of these dollars (90%) support the general fund, while a small portion (10%) is now being reinvested in arts, culture, and tourism through the newly created Tourism Fund. Lodging tax revenue is dependent on visitors to Connecticut and will grow or shrink depending on how much we invest in and capitalize on our assets like our neighboring states. Essentially, as Governor-Elect Lamont has pointed out, we are not cost centers but revenue generators. At a time when Connecticut needs more positive reasons to visit and stay, we are an efficient and effective investment with powerful ripple effects in our cities and towns.

In first 100 days, we recommend a new investment strategy that will accelerate Connecticut’s economic growth. We recommend the Administration include in its budget and also support legislation that will reallocate existing lodging tax revenue deposited into the Tourism Fund from the current 10% to 25% with a defined allocation of 40% for arts & culture-related investment and 60% for tourism-related investment and change the name of the fund to “Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund.”

  • Provide predictable and sustainable funding to ACT which will exponentially increase jobs and the economy while investing in community revitalization that will have neighborhood impact
  • Does not increase overall state spending but shifts $19M from the general fund to ACT Fund
  • Generates $150 million in tax revenue, based on $3 to $1 ROI for tourism and $7 to $1 ROI for arts and culture
  • Connecticut would increase its competitiveness with bordering states that spend a combined $86M dollars on tourism marketing and invest nearly twice what Connecticut does in the arts on a per capita basis
  • Connecticut could also gradually reduce its regressive lodging tax to 2009 level

Recommendation # 2: Collaborative Goals

Arts, culture and tourism have historically been under the same umbrella, and had a symbiotic relationship with each other but operated within different silos of DECD state offices (Office of Tourism, Office of the Arts, SHPO, Film), each with different goals and different structures to support the sectors. The State would benefit from a unified vision for Arts, Culture and Tourism with shared goals. We are perceived as one industry and are dependent on each other, but arts, culture and tourism entities have not had the opportunity to be think aspirationally and act intentionally together….until now.

Require and advance collaborative goals for continuity among ACT’s state offices, their affiliate councils/committees, and the industries they serve. Resources for ACT should have a dedicated, more strategic focus on statewide tourism marketing and operating support for arts and cultural organizations to maximize tax revenue and job creation.

  • Define primary responsibility for ACT resources for efficiency, accountability, and transparency
  • Identify opportunities for efficiencies, collaboration, streamlining among relevant state offices
  • Streamline councils and committees that oversee ACT offices to reduce duplication and administrative expenses and also clarify roles and responsibilities of each
    • Note that we need to mindful of not jeopardizing any federal funding requirements such as the requirement of an arts council for National Endowment for the Arts, among others

Recommendation # 3: ACT Investment Task Force

Arts Culture, and Tourism are supported by a diverse range of leaders, organizations, and legislators—peers and professionals who know and represent the needs of their communities. This committee has had important, long- overdue discussions and has been able to reach consensus through difficult and rewarding conversations in a short time. A number of recommendations about investment have been met with enthusiasm and support by legislators, colleagues, and the public. This committee would like to continue to develop these recommendations into proposals for the new administration and general assembly.

In the first 100 days, we ask that you support the formation of an ad-hoc, voluntary ACT Investment Task Force that would be led, managed and overseen by members of this Policy committee and would be broadened and expanded to include other leaders and legislators. The Task Force would provide specific recommendations to the Administration within 90 days to optimize and leverage local, state and federal investment.

The ACT Task Force, with corresponding sub-committees, would provide proposals to the Administration about:

  • Current Connecticut Funding Distribution
    • The Task Force would re-examine the current system that distributes funds to the arts, culture and tourism community with the goal of ensuring that it maximizes the impact of state funds in support of job creation, economic growth and community vitality. This includes continuing to build consensus around competitive grant making, the use of line items, and national best practices so that we can finally be proud of how Connecticut invests in arts, culture and tourism.
    • Given our impact on the economic vitality of the state, any changes must be very strategic. But with a new administration coming into office and a new vision for arts, culture and tourism, this is an opportune moment to review the current system and effect change should it be required.
  • Bonding Investment and Adoption of a Connecticut Cultural Facilities Fund
    • Connecticut has a history of generous support for cultural facilities through bonding, which should not change. However, it has historically done so without a broad strategic plan for investment. The Task Force would provide a proposal for a Connecticut Cultural Facilities Fund that would create construction jobs; support world-class arts and cultural facilities; increase tourism; expand access and education; and improve the quality of life in cities and towns across Connecticut.
    • While we were thrilled to have a legislator offer to sponsor a bill immediately, more time is needed to further develop a model for Connecticut. This legislator has agreed to serve on this Task Force.

Recommendation # 4: Regional Tourism

The State of Connecticut is blessed with significant physical, cultural, and tourism related assets spread across a range of geographic regions. These assets and indeed their regions deserve specialized attention and messaging to a wide range of audiences both within and outside the State. For at least the past two decades, the State has relied upon on structure that today is an arcane and outdated approach to marketing the various entities that help define what it means to “be Connecticut.” It is an old model utilizing old ideas.

The Arts, Culture and Tourism (ACT) Policy Committee recommends that the current model used for marketing the State’s regions be re-imagined with the goal of establishing a new innovative model to market Connecticut’s resources in a manner that is relevant, inclusive, and more meaningful for the diverse entities across the State. We recognize that it is not in the best interest for Connecticut to duplicate current tourism related efforts. Thus, within the first 100 days, we recommend the administration work collaboratively with the “Blue Ribbon Tourism Panel” and a subcommittee of our proposed Task Force.

Recommendation # 5: Governor as ACT Advocate

Given the economic strength and community ripple effect of our industries, arts, culture and tourism requires that the Governor, our state’s leader, be our champion. A consistent voice of support and inclusion in his efforts to strengthen our state will drive additional value, particularly for building a positive view about our state. Having a Governor who truly understands the value of arts, culture and tourism as he does is something we want to take advantage of, and a few immediate actions will solidify his commitment.

In the first 100 days and over time, implement immediate changes to have the Governor help promote Connecticut’s arts, cultural and tourism assets. ACT Together. Ensure regular and direct communication to/from the Governor enabling him to be an informed advocate for ACT, including a direct report to Governor.

As CT’s tourism ambassador and Connecticut’s arts & culture champion, the Governor would:

  • In the first 100 days:
    • Open the welcome centers to declare that Connecticut is open for business for its 6.3 million annual visitors
    • Convene business leaders to spur private sector philanthropy for local arts and culture nonprofits
    • Proclaim Connecticut a STEAM state by shifting from a STEM to STEAM emphasis
    • Encourage and invest in READI – the Connecticut Office of the Arts’ policy to be Relevant, Equitable, Accessible, Diverse and Inclusive – across statewide agencies
  • In the first year:
    • Encourage a refreshed statewide marketing campaign for the 21st century
    • Include Arts, Culture and Tourism leaders on the new Business Recruitment Board
    • Utilize existing communication tools (inserts in state mailings, highway signage, recorded messages, license plates, etc.) to promote
    • Continue cross-sector opportunities to foster innovation and integrate arts and culture as a solution in healthcare, transportation, public safety, workforce development, etc.
    • Promote accessibility to our cultural assets through Passport to Parks, Blue Star Museums for veterans, and a SNAP admission program for low-income families

ACT Policy Committee Process + Activities

  • Late November – ACT Committee members appointed (see list below)
  • Late November to December 12, 2018 – Working Group half-day and full-day meetings, conference calls, and email communications to develop recommendations around three main objectives: spur economic growth, create jobs, and identify cost savings/efficiencies
  • December 19, 2018 – ACT Committee Report Out to Lt. Governor-Elect Bysiewicz and Transition Team Members at Goodspeed Opera House (open to public and press)
    • Nine Policy Recommendations
    • Images of Posters
  • January 3, 2019 – ACT Committee Report out to Governor-Elect Lamont, Lt. Governor-Elect Bysiewicz, Senior Administration and Transition Team members
    • Five Policy Recommendations and Actionable Items
  • January 16, 2019 – ACT Committee Presented at Tourism Caucus
    • Funding Model Proposal

Press Coverage

Hartford Courant: Advocates Say Arts And Cultural Attractions Can Boost State’s Economy, If They Are Promoted

The Day: Arts, Culture and Tourism Panel Urges Lamont to Take Lead

Fox 61: Lamont / Bysiewicz Policy Committee Submits Recommendations on CT Arts, Culture & Tourism

New Haven Arts Org: Transition Committee: Arts Will ACTivate Connecticut’s Economy

Facebook: Livestream/Recording of Committee Update to Lt. Governor-Elect Bysiewicz and Transition Team

New Haven Arts: Arts To Tourism Caucus: Include Us, Too

The Day: Officials Suggest Connecticut Needs a New Tourism Slogan

Lamont-Bysiewicz Transition ACT Policy Committee

Wendy Bury*, Co-Chair, Southeastern CT Cultural Coalition
Stephen Tagliatela, Co-Chair, CT Tourism Coalition
Brett Thompson*, Greater Hartford Arts Council
Daniel Fitzmaurice*, Arts Council of Greater New Haven
David Fay*, The Bushnell
Jason Mancini, CT Humanities
Kathleen Maher, The Barnum Museum
Lisa Scails, Cultural Alliance of Western CT
Maria Miranda, Miranda Creative
Michael Price, CT Culture & Tourism Advisory Comm
Steve White, Mystic Seaport
Tony Sheridan, Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT
Vivian Nabeta, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center,
Min Jung Kim*, New Britain Museum of American Art
Elsie Chapman, International Festival of Arts and Ideas
Tina Tison, The Maritime Aquarium
Scott Dolch, CT Restaurant Association
Jeffrey Hamilton, Mohegan Tribe/Mohegan Sun
Jason Guyot, Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods
Andrea Goodrich, UAW Local 2121
Edwin Camp, UNITE HERE Local 34

* Connecticut Arts Alliance board members

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