State Arts Funding

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Here’s what you need to know

State funding for the arts comes through the tourism fund.

Read on to learn more about the various elements of state funding for the arts and culture sector.

As of January 2021

Download the Infographic:

What is the Tourism Fund?

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 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); COA state funding is matched by about $1 million in federal funding through the Federal National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Connecticut Humanities; Connecticut Humanities state funding is matched by about $850,000 in federal funding through the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Connecticut Office of Tourism (Statewide Tourism Marketing)
    • CTVisit.com and marketing of Connecticut
    • Statewide marketing initiatives
    • Tourism Districts
  • Arts, Cultural & Tourism Direct Line Items (individual organizations and groups)

How does the TF benefit Connecticut? The TF investments provide:

  • COA funding re-granted through more than 400 competitive grants statewide
  • CTH funding re-granted through grant funding for hundreds of Connecticut non-profits, including museums, cultural centers, historical societies, libraries, and civic organizations
  • Support for the state’s Designated Regional Service Organizations to maintain a statewide network of arts and cultural agencies
  • Operating support to select anchor arts institutions that drive economic, community, and tourism development
  • 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.

What is a Line Item?

A line item is a line in the budget that is designated for specific entities. For example, in Connecticut’s budget there are line items for Connecticut Office of the Arts, Connecticut Humanities, Tourism, and specific nonprofits and groups. However, there are pros and cons to line items.

From the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies:

Line items present various opportunities for state arts agencies. Line items can be useful for leveraging additional arts dollars and for funding large-scale projects (such as capital construction for facilities) that may fall outside of a state arts agency’s grant programs. Another positive effect can be that legislators get a sense of participation and ownership in arts activities, which some agencies see as a way to bolster more general support in the future.

However, line items also carry significant risks and challenges. Line item funds might not be spent in accordance with SAA goals, and might bypass SAA policies that ensure equity in fund distribution. In extreme circumstances, they discourage arts organizations from working in partnership with their state arts agency, and make it difficult for arts advocates to present a unified message to legislative decision makers. Additionally, recipients of line items rarely have to report those dollars to either the state arts agency or the legislature, making accountability difficult.

How CT State Funding Stacks Up

Now understanding what line items are, check out this interactive map by NASAA showing appropriations in each state with and without line items. How does Connecticut stack up when excluding line items?

Connecticut ranks in the bottom quartile in arts funding when excluding line items for specific organizations and groups.

CT Office of the Arts and CT Humanities

In CT, 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 through the “Arts Commission” budget line item with a federal match from the National Endowment for the Arts and receives support from other public and private sources. COA uses the lenses of relevance, equity, access, diversity, and inclusion (READI) to guide programmatic and investment decisions within a framework of artistic excellence.

COA funds:

  • 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)

CT Humanities (CTH) in an independent, non-profit 501(c)3 state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is the only statewide public humanities organization serving as the primary access point for grant funding for hundreds of Connecticut non-profits, including museums, cultural centers, historical societies, libraries, and civic organizations that enrich and support every community in the state.  For over 40 years, CT Humanities has supported these organizations through grantmaking for exhibits, programs, and digital projects that benefit every Connecticut citizen.  CTH has earned public trust through its responsible stewardship of federal, state, and private funds, its peer-review grant-making process, its online educational resources, and its work to support, stabilize, and strengthen the organizations and communities it serves.  

CT Humanities funds:

  • Grants to cultural organizations for humanities programs and projects
  • CT Center for the Book
  • CT History Online – Connecticut History