Policy Recommendations

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

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

  • Improve and contribute to Connecticut’s quality of life
  • 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, and teamwork that are crucial to an innovative economy and are sought-after skills 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, and in FY18 was established so that in 2019 10% of the proceeds from the Hotel Tax will 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 in 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 NEA matching funds, the state budget MUST have designated arts funds sourced through the General Fund


  • Change the fund name to Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund.
  • Define the process and procedure for allocations.
  • Support legislation to change fund so that the arts fund within tourism is also non-lapsing.
  • Ensure designated arts funds to maintain approx. $1 million federal match.

ACTION NEEDED $1 to Arts = $7 to State Gov’t ROI in Arts & Culture

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.


  • Connecticut’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 CT
  • 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


  • Restore, 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 .02 % of the State budget total.

ACTION NEEDED Capital Projects for Cultural Facilities

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; expand access and education in the arts, humanities, and sciences; and improve the quality of life in cities and towns across the state.


  • “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.


  • Support 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.

ACTION NEEDED Connecticut Arts Council

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 Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development serving in an ex officio voting capacity; and one (1) member, 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.


  • All recommended Office of the Arts grants are approved by the Connecticut Arts Council.


  • Maintain the Connecticut Arts Council.



ACTION NEEDED Connecticut’s Art in Public Spaces (AIPS) Program

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 range in scale from works on paper to monumental murals.


  • As part of the current two-year 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.


  • Restore funding for the 1% for Art program.

ACTION NEEDED Arts Education

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 is one of top 3 traits most important to career success. Arts specialists who are knowledgeable arts educators with the qualifications to lead arts educators across the state are needed at the State Department of Education.


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


Fill at least one of the two arts specialist positions at the State Department of Education.

ACTION NEEDED Connecticut Arts Endowment Fund

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, and equipment or to build their own endowments, etc.


  • Recently 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.


Continue to assess and ensure that the Connecticut Arts Endowment Fund operates more productively.



ACTION NEEDED Private Sector Support

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.


There has been a decrease in private sector support.


Develop 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.


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


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

ACTION NEEDED Trusted Partner in the Office of the Arts

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. 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.  


COA is an effective office, but is under resourced.


Maintain 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.

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