Policy Recommendations

Connecticut Arts Alliance and the CT Alliance for Arts Education, partners of Create the Vote CT, are urging the Governor and General Assembly to:

ACKNOWLEDGE that arts and culture, situated in the Department of Economic &  Community Development and supported by the Office of the Arts:

  • Improve quality of life and contribute to Connecticut’s economy
  • Create vibrant rural and urban communities
  • Support the tourism industry

ACKNOWLEDGE that arts education helps students throughout their academic careers with many positive, long-term social and workforce benefits. The arts:

  • Are a key component to successful early childhood programs (increasing brain and cognitive development and improving academic performance)
  • Foster creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, and skills that are crucial to an innovative economy and are sought-after for leadership by employers
  • Reduce truancy and drug use and improve SAT scores and graduation rates (low-income students with high levels of arts involvement being more likely to graduate)



Originally intended to be called the Culture, Tourism and Arts Fund, the Fund was established in FY 2018 so that in 2019 10% of the proceeds from the Hotel Tax go to this fund.


  • Currently referred to as Tourism Fund, but includes funding for arts, culture and tourism, which has led to confusion and concern  
  • Tourism Fund is non-lapsing, but the line items within the fund (which is where the arts and “Arts Commission” fall) are lapsing
  • Process and procedure for allocations have yet to be announced
  • In order for Connecticut to qualify for Federal National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) matching funds, the state budget MUST have designated arts funds allocated for arts and culture. The 1:1 cost share/match must come from state government funds that are directly controlled and appropriated by the state and directly managed by the state arts agency (Office of the Arts or “Arts Commission”).

Action Needed:

  • Change the fund name to Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund.
  • Define the process and procedure for allocations.
  • Support legislation to change the fund so that the arts fund within tourism is also non-lapsing.
  • Ensure 1:1 Federal match (approximately $1 million currently) that must come from state government funds that are directly controlled and appropriated by the state and directly managed by the Office of the Arts.


Arts and cultural nonprofits are funded through the Connecticut Office of the Arts and individual line items: $1.5M to “Arts Commission” and $2.7M to line items for individual arts organizations.

StatusConnecticut’s arts investment is not competitive with surrounding states.  $4.2 million per year = 0.02% of state budget and a 60% decrease since 2009. The 2015 economic impact study of Connecticut’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations showed $1 invested = $7 return to Connecticut. Neighboring states have been increasing their investment per capita because they recognize the economic impact. Current per capita arts investment:  Rhode Island $2.16; Massachusetts $2.02; Connecticut $1.18

Action NeededRestore, over time, the total state arts funding to the levels of 2008 ($10,000,000) for the Office of the Arts (“Arts Commission” line in the budget). This total represents less than .05% of the state budget and would be more in alignment with neighboring states’ per capita investment.


Funding for capital projects is inconsistent and scarce. Acquisition, design, repair, renovation, expansion, and construction of nonprofit cultural facilities create jobs in construction and cultural tourism; they expand access and education in the arts, humanities, and sciences; and they improve the quality of life in cities and towns across the state.

StatusThe “Good to Great” grant program in 2016 and 2018 provided funding for capital projects that link art, history, and tourism in ways that enable cultural and historical sites to enhance the visitors’ experience.

Action NeededSupport an annual Good to Great grant program for consistent and on-going state bonding to finance the capital improvement, restoration, and modernization of cultural facilities modeled after the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund.


The Connecticut Arts Council was established within the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) by Public Act 13-247. The Council members are appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders for a maximum of two (2) three-year or four-year terms.  The Council consists of thirteen (13) members, with the DECD Commissioner serving in an ex officio voting capacity, and one (1) member being a designated DECD staff person serving in an ex officio non-voting capacity.  The Council relies on staff support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

StatusAll recommended Office of the Arts grants are approved by the Connecticut Arts Council as required in order to qualify for Federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Action NeededMaintain the Connecticut Arts Council.



Managed by the Office of the Arts and established by the General Assembly in 1978, the program requires that not less than 1% of the cost of construction or renovation of publicly accessible state buildings be allocated for the commission or purchase of artwork for that building. Nearly 400 works have been commissioned since the program’s inception.  The works represent a wide variety of media, including sculpture, wall relief, environmental installation, painting, and photography; and they range in scale from works on paper to monumental murals.

StatusAs part of the 2017-18 state budget adopted by the Governor and the General Assembly, funding for the 1% for Art program was removed.  Due to this change, DECD/DAS will commission or purchase new works of art for only those publicly accessible state buildings fully allocated for construction, including issuance of a Notice to Proceed, prior to December 31, 2017.

Any projects in pre-design or design phases are exempt from the Art in Public Spaces Program regardless of the amount of the 1% for Art allocated; any remaining portion of the 1% for Art allocation shall be returned to the State and not added to the construction allocation.

Action NeededRestore funding for the 1% for Art program.


The Arts are included as part of a well-rounded education in Federal Law: ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). Sequential arts education on all levels provides an education system for the whole child. Arts requirements at all levels, including for high school graduation, benefit students. Schools and employers rank a degree in the arts among the most significant indicators of a candidate’s creativity and innovation skills – creativity being one of top three traits most important to career success. Arts specialists at the State Department of Education are knowledgeable arts educators who have the qualifications to lead other arts educators across the state, are needed to fulfill State requirements most effectively and with maximum results.

StatusThe arts liaison position to the Department of Education is vacant.

Action NeededRestore at least two Arts Education Specialists/Consultants at the State Department of Education.


The Fund was established by the State in 2003 with an initial investment of $1 million. The Office of the State Treasurer manages the Fund and the Office of the Arts administers the program.  

The interest earned on the Fund’s principal is distributed annually to eligible Connecticut arts organizations.  CAEF grants are unrestricted.  Grantees may apply the grant funds toward programming, administrative/operational costs, capital projects, equipment, to build their own endowments, or other general uses.

StatusRecently passed Connecticut Bill 7226 enabled the Arts Endowment Fund to operate more productively and more similarly to standard endowment funds at no additional expense to the State budget.

Action NeededContinue to assess and ensure that the Connecticut Arts Endowment Fund operates productively.



Corporate and private sector support for arts and culture dramatically decreased during the Great Recession and has never recovered in Connecticut. State investment spurs private sector support.

StatusThere has been a decrease in private sector support.

Action NeededDevelop and support initiatives to spur private sector and public/private partnerships.


In this climate of economic uncertainty, Connecticut and the United States are once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future. Innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. STEM explicitly focuses on scientific concepts. STEAM, with the additional “A” for arts, investigates the same concepts, but does this through inquiry and problem-based learning methods used in the creative process. The Arts (dance, media arts, music, theater, visual arts, and other arts disciplines) are part of a well-rounded education alongside reading, math and other subjects in ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) – Federal Law.

StatusArts are not prioritized in 21st century education and workforce development.

Action NeededAdopt language and encourage STEAM education to incorporate creative thinking, arts integration, and applied arts in real situations.


In Connecticut, the state agency charged with fostering the health of the creative economy is the Office of the Arts (COA). It administers grant-making programs and operational funding that are critical to overall health of the arts sector in Connecticut and which bring in National Endowment for the Arts matching funds. It does so with the highest national standards for review and reporting that include transparency, accountability, and industry-wide best practices. In addition to grants, COA supports statewide arts education initiatives, professional development, workforce development, creative sector research, special projects focused on underserved and rural communities, poet laureate and state troubadour programs, and the Poetry Out Loud initiative.

The Office of the Arts is funded by the State of Connecticut with a Federal match from the National Endowment for the Arts and receives support from other public and private sources.  

StatusCOA is an effective office, but is under resourced.

Action NeededMaintain and support the Office of the Arts (listed as a line under Department of Economic & Community Development called “Arts Commission”) and ensure it is appropriately staffed.

November 2018

A version of these recommendations to download and print is available here.

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