Imperative for Continued Office of the Arts Leadership

There has been some confusion and misinformation this week about the recently announced job posting for an Arts and Culture Administrator at the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). The Connecticut Arts Alliance, a non-profit advocacy organization led by artists, educators, and arts executives from all over our state, would like to clarify some details about this position and its importance to the creative sector in our state.

Up until a year ago, the person in this position had been appointed by the Governor, which has historically created inconsistencies with each selection or change of administration and politicization of the position. DECD corrected this problem last year by classifying (making permanent) the position with a clear job description and specific qualifications to oversee the Office of the Arts and State Historic Preservation Office. Kristina Newman-Scott, originally appointed by Governor Malloy in 2015 and often referred to as the Director of Culture, was hired for this permanent position.

DECD is simply rehiring for this job, which has been vacant since early summer when Newman-Scott left the position, as they would for any other vacancy in the department. This is not a political appointment and the job has specific criteria, which is why they are conducting a national search to secure the very best applicants to serve our state.

The Connecticut Arts Alliance has worked with many different leaders at DECD’s Office of the Arts over the last 15 years. During that time, the state arts agency has been periodically stalled from realizing its full potential for both the state and for the arts sector because of the frequent changes in leadership and inconsistent knowledge of and experience in the cultural sector. We need to maintain the status of this leadership position to ensure that our relationships with the federal government and many other state and local partners continue unimpeded, as well as to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency.

This position is dedicated to the long term, rather than the duration of a political appointment. At long last, Connecticut can have consistent cultural leadership with the required expertise to carry forward strategic initiatives and reinforce the agency’s very capable team. With this position in place, we now suffer fewer unnecessary delays in the progress and impact that the Office of the Arts could have for the state. Having this leadership position filled as a permanent, classified post will stop the practice of unintentional derailment of the agency by political appointees who do not have the experience or expertise or the commitment to the long-term.

For those who wonder—why does this position exist at all? If you are an artist, involved with an arts or cultural organization, or enjoy experiencing creative events in your community, then you know the importance of the Director of Culture to oversee our industry in state government and harness the power of the arts to educate the next generation, build vibrant communities, and attract and retain employers and residents.

If you are not a believer, then consider first that the nonprofits arts and cultural sector in Connecticut is an $800 million industry that supports over 23,000 jobs statewide. Next, this position for the Office of the Arts, together with those of Historic Preservation and the four museums, manages millions in federal and state funding and has critical oversight and responsibility for regulatory functions. This position leverages nearly $1 million in matching grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for statewide grantmaking and programs, which are guided by a formal strategic plan. Overall, strong leadership at the Office of the Arts helps to catalyze investment from the business and donor community, promote collaboration with other areas of government, particularly education and tourism, and ensure accountability and efficiency.

With the facts about and importance of this position now clear, the Connecticut Arts Alliance hopes that DECD will secure the best candidate possible as soon as possible for our next Director of Culture. It is important to maintain consistency in a sector that is one of Connecticut’s strengths and a solution to—not part of—Connecticut’s economic problems. Let’s not re-break what has already been fixed.

48-Hour Advocacy Push to Save the State Arts Budget!

Join the Connecticut Arts Alliance in an important 48-hour advocacy push on June 5 and 6 in support of continued State arts funding. Please do what you can to take part, and please share this with other friends and supporters of the arts, encouraging them to participate too. Easy-to-follow instructions and a unified message appear below.

THE PLAN:
The budget process is no small challenge, but we cannot keep quiet for fear of very real damage to the arts sector in Connecticut.

CALL TO ACTION:
Please help the voice of the arts be heard by getting the message below to both the State’s Administration and the Legislature.

WHEN:
Please take this specific action during the 48 HOURS of June 5 & 6, 2017.

WHO:
For your convenience, a list of legislative and administrative leaders appears at the bottom of this message, along with their contact information.

CAA_CTArtsMatter (revised)

PLEASE GET THIS MESSAGE TO STATE GOVERNMENT LEADERS:

CT Arts Matter!

  • The CT FY18 & FY19 budgets MUST INCLUDE funding for the ARTS COMMISSION (the Connecticut Office of the Arts).

Without this funding, Connecticut will:

  • lose valued Federal Matching Funds
  • lose much needed state revenue

We ask that you:

  • Fund the State “Arts Commission” line (Connecticut Office of the Arts) which leverages vital Federal NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) matching funds.
  • Support maintaining total arts funding of $5,183,087 (less than 0.02% of the proposed budget)

And keep in mind:

  • For every State dollar invested in the Arts, $7 in state revenue is generated. The arts are good for Connecticut’s economy!
  • The arts sector employed over 57,000 people in the arts and cultural industries in 2014, which represented 3.4% of all employment in the state.  The arts industry led utilities and transportation in both compensation and employment.

Thank you for your consideration!

More information on the advocacy positions of the Connecticut Arts Alliance is on its website HERE.

More information on the impact of the arts on the economy is on the Office of the Arts website HERE.

PLEASE EMAIL OR CALL 4 OR MORE OF THOSE LISTED BELOW:

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

Governor Malloy   governor.malloy@ct.gov   860-566-4840
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman   ltgovernor.wyman@ct.gov   860-524-7384
DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith   Catherine.Smith@ct.gov

AND LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP

Sen. Len Fasano   Len.Fasano@cga.ct.gov   860-240-8871
Sen. Martin Looney   Looney@senatedems.ct.gov   860-240-0375
Sen. Paul Formica   paul.formica@cga.ct.gov   860-240-8371
Sen. Cathy Osten   Catherine.Osten@cga.ct.gov   860-240-0579
Rep. Toni Walker   toni.walker@cga.ct.gov   860-240-8585
Sen. Joan Hartley   hartley@senatedems.ct.gov   860-240-0006
Sen. Craig Miner   Craig.Miner@cga.ct.gov   860-240-8816
Rep. Henry Genga   henry.genga@cga.ct.gov   860-240-8585
Rep. Ezequiel Santiago   ezequiel.santiago@cga.ct.gov   860-240-8585
Rep. Chris Soto   Chris.Soto@cga.ct.gov   860-240-8585
Rep. Melissa Ziobron   Melissa.Ziobron@housegop.ct.gov   860-240-8700

AND FIND YOUR OWN LEGISLATORS HERE!