General Policy Priorities
While COVID-19 has impacted policy making for the arts and culture community, general policy priorities include:
- Increase the percentage of the existing Lodging Tax that is allocated to the Tourism Fund from 10% to 25%. Note that this IS NOT an increase in the tax rate.
- Ensure that any new revenue in the Tourism Fund is dedicated to and shared equally among all line items, which includes “Arts Commission” (Office of the Arts), “Statewide Tourism Marketing” (Office of Tourism), CT Humanities, and direct line items to arts, cultural and tourism entities and groups
- Ensure the Administration and legislators consult with Connecticut Arts Alliance, Connecticut Humanities and Connecticut Tourism Coalition for decisions that impact the art, cultural and tourism industries
- Encourage the Tourism Fund, as a whole, to have additional and new dedicated revenue sources without increasing the Lodging Tax rate
- Invite culture-focused legislators to join the Arts, Culture, and Tourism Caucus
- Educate caucus members and legislators about the Tourism Fund and its importance Connecticut’s economy and community life
Tourism Fund 101
The Tourism Fund invests in the Connecticut experience—building vibrant communities, attracting tourists and employers, and boosting our economy.
What is it? The Tourism Fund (TF) is a non-lapsing special fund, separate from the general fund, that is solely funded by a dedicated revenue source.
How is it funded? Connecticut levies a 15% occupancy tax on hotel stays up to 30 days in length. 10% of the total tax revenue collected by the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is deposited into the TF after every quarter.
What does TF fund? The TF fund invests in arts, culture and tourism through a variety of line items in the budget appropriated by legislators. The TF currently funds:
- Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA, or Arts Commission in the state budget); the Federal National Endowment for the Arts invests about $1 million in our state, which COA is committed to match in order to fund:
- Grants to arts and cultural organizations, artists, and community arts projects
- Statewide initiatives (such as Arts Workforce Initiative and Arts Day, etc.)
- Designated Regional Service Organizations (regional arts and culture agencies)
- Connecticut Humanities; the National Endowment for the Humanities invests $850,000 in our state, which Connecticut Humanities is committed to match
- Grants to cultural organizations for humanities programs and projects
- CT Center for the Book
- CT History Online
- Connecticut Office of Tourism (Statewide Tourism Marketing)
- CTVisit.com and marketing of Connecticut
- Statewide initiatives (CT Open House Day, The Big E, Made in CT)
- Tourism Districts (Eastern, Central, Western)
- Arts, Cultural & Tourism Direct Line Items (individual organizations and groups)
How does the TF benefit Connecticut? The TF investments provide:
- Operating support to anchor arts institutions that drive economic, community, and tourism development
- Program and project support to arts and cultural institutions’ events, community programs, arts education, and local arts projects and initiatives
- COA funding re-granted through more than 400 competitive grants statewide
- Support for the nine Designated Regional Service Organizations to maintain a statewide network of arts and cultural agencies
- Operating support to major tourist attractions, statewide tourism marketing, and tourism districts
What is unique about the TF? Legislators cannot “sweep” funds from the TF, unless this were to be mandated through legislation, and the TF, like all special funds, is not subject to potential general fund rescissions from the governor.
What if there is more or less money in the TF? Revenue collection and deposits into the TF are administrative, while the spending and budget process are legislative. This means that:
- The biannual budget is set legislatively based on the estimated size of the TF
- If the TF has more or less money than budgeted for an upcoming year, the governor and legislators will decide how to accommodate for that change during the budget process.
Updated January 6, 2021