Policy Recommendations

In the Connecticut state government, arts and culture are situated in the Department of Economic & Community Development and supported by the Office of the Arts. The arts and culture sector:

  • Represents 5% of Connecticut’s economy, generates $9 billion annually, and supports 57,000 jobs
  • Improves quality of life and contributes to Connecticut’s economy
  • Creates vibrant rural and urban communities
  • Is integral to the tourism industry

Priorities for the 2020 Legislative Session

Recommendations

  • Dedicate and codify 40% to Arts + Culture and 60% to Tourism in the Tourism Fund
  • Change the name from Tourism Fund to Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund
  • Allocate 25% of existing Lodging Tax into the Tourism Fund (compared to current allocation of 10%, not to impact tax rate)
  • Ensure that any excess revenue in the Tourism Fund is appropriated annually 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 consortiums; do not add new line items
  • Ensure the Administration and legislators consult with Connecticut Arts Alliance and Connecticut Tourism Coalition for decisions that impact the arts & 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 arts-focused legislators to join the Arts, Culture, and Tourism Caucus
  • Educate caucus members and legislators about Tourism Fund

Legislative Recommendations/Bill Tracker

S.B. 63 – An Act Eliminating the Requirement for the Purchase of Artwork for State Building Projects
(Joint Committee on Government Administration and Elections)

  • Purpose: To eliminate the requirement that the State Bond Commission allocate one per cent of the state building project cost for the purchase of artwork to reduce state construction costs.
  • Description: Connecticut’s Art in Public Spaces (AIPS) program is managed by Office of the Arts and was 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 installations of all sizes have been commissioned since the program’s inception including sculptures, painted murals, and photographs.
  • Percent for Art programs are active in 28 states and territories.
  • Notes: Impacts Connecticut’s Art in Public Spaces Program in three ways:
  • Would eliminate future commissioning/purchasing of new work (public art component) for state building projects
  • Would eliminate funding for maintenance of existing work in state buildings and projects previously commissioned through the program (managed by the Office of the Arts)
  • Would eliminate ability to purchase new work and maintain artwork currently in the Connecticut Artist Collection
  • Recommendation: OPPOSE

H.B. 5005 – An Act Adjusting the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2021
(Joint Committee on Appropriations)

  • Purpose: To implement the Governor’s budget recommendations.
  • Notes: There were no recommended adjustments to arts, culture or tourism line items within the Tourism Fund budget other than a $19,000 reduction in Performing Theaters Grant to reflect current expenditure levels and remove funding attributed to the dissolution of a theater.
  • Recommendation: SUPPORT

S.B. 21 – An Act Authorizing Sports Wagering, Internet Gaming, A Casino Gaming Facility in Bridgeport, Entertainment Zone Facilities, Internet Lottery and Internet Keno
(Public Safety and Security Committee)

  • Purpose: To create jobs in the gaming industry and increase revenue to the state.
  • Recommendation: SUPPORT WITH AMENDMENT
  • Current language: Ten per cent of the gross gaming revenue from the operation of authorized games, except video facsimile games, which shall be deposited in the state-wide tourism marketing account, established pursuant to section 10-395a of the general statutes.
  • Recommended language: Ten per cent of the gross gaming revenue from the operation of authorized games, except video facsimile games, which shall be deposited in the Tourism Fund, established pursuant to section 10-395b of the general statutes.

S.B. 133 – An Act Concerning Regional Tourism Districts
(Commerce Committee)

  • Purpose: To require each regional tourism district to return unexpended tourism funding to the Department of Economic and Community Development for the purpose of supporting state-wide marketing and to eliminate the requirement that the central regional district office be located within the department.
  • Recommendation: NO ACTION

H.B. 5163 – An Act Eliminating Certain Inactive Advisory Groups
(Joint Committee on Commerce)

  • Purpose: To eliminate the Culture and Tourism Advisory Committee, Commission on Connecticut’s Future, Small Business Advisory Board, and Committee for the Restoration of Historic Assets in Connecticut.
  • Notes: Previous legislative session passed new bill to establish a Tourism Council with representatives appointed by Governor, legislators, DECD, etc.
  • Recommendation: NO ACTION

S.B. 61 – An Act Concerning Property Tax Exemptions

  • Purpose: To require assessors and boards of assessors to post certain property tax exemption statement forms on such assessors’ and boards’ Internet web sites, clarify that payments made by Federal, State, or local governments for the treatment, support, or care of certain individuals shall not constitute housing subsidies for the purposes of determining what is a charitable purpose, require boards of assessors to consider whether certain property claimed to be exempt is owned or held in trust by Federal tax-exempt charitable organizations, and clarify that subsidiary and affiliate entities of the Connecticut Institute for the Blind are tax-exempt.
  • Recommendation: SUPPORT

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 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 consortiums)
    • Connecticut Humanities; the National Endowment for the Humanities invests $850,000 in our state, which Connecticut Humanities is committed to match

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 March 3, 2020

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