NEW HAVEN, CT.- The Connecticut Arts Alliance (CAA) Board members held an emergency meeting on Tuesday in response to the current budget crises at the State’s capital and the potential impact on the Arts as a political sacrificial lamb. CAA is comprised of arts leaders across the state, many of which represent regional based organizations giving voice to hundreds of arts groups in their local communities. The group is particularly concerned that art, history, and film are being thrown in a cross fire between the Governor and legislative leaders during one of the most difficult economic tight-spots in recent history.
CAA recognizes the enormous challenge with finding solutions to this crisis. However, State government itself recognizes the enormous contribution the creative economy has made; $14 Billion in Connecticut economic activity from culture & tourism activities; 170,000 Jobs/10% of the Connecticut Labor Force come from culture and tourism. $88 million was collected by the State from hotel room taxes alone last year. This equals the combined budgets of the Dept. of Veteran Affairs, Consumer Protection and DEP or Housing/Homeless Services and Pharmaceutical assistance to the Elderly annually. By a unanimous decision, CAA urges state government to not only protect the arts, but support it with adequate funding.
The Governor submitted a plan to the legislature and the plan proposed all funding for the arts, history, and film be severely reduced or suspended and regional tourism districts and statewide marketing are eliminated. The plan also calls for the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism to be merged into the Department Of Economic Development. The Basic Cultural Resource Grants, which are given to arts organizations for operating support, as well as the legislatively determined line-item grants, are suspended. Without matching dollars and a Commission, Connecticut will not be able to receive National Endowment for the Arts funds which supplement current programs including Local Arts Agency grant dollars and some CCT staff. Funding for membership dues to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies is also suspended. The film training program started to support the industry by hiring from CT is also suspended.
“The Commission on Culture and Tourism provides a large portion of unrestricted operating support in the Greater Hartford region. General operating support is crucial to keeping arts organizations afloat; these funds keep the lights on, staff paid, and essential to our making an economic impact in the region,” says, Kate Bolduc, Executive Director, Greater Hartford Arts Council.
It is now up to the legislature to respond to the governor’s plan and determine if arts, history, film and tourism are a valued part of Connecticut’s economy and to support it with adequate funding. The negotiations with top leadership will be ongoing and are likely to extend beyond the June 3rd deadline. The CAA Board has issued a Call to constituents urging them now to contact their legislative leaders and express their concern.
Art, history, and film have already proven to be a strong partner in Connecticut’s economy and will continue to do so with support from our State leaders. Sacrificing the creative economy is not in the best interest of Connecticut and a detriment to our communities. Cindy Clair, Executive Director, New Haven Arts Council points out, “the arts stimulate spending from restaurants and shopping to concessions and parking. They lure visitors to our cities, and create vibrant environments in which to live and work”
For every dollar our government leaders think to cut from the commission’s budget, the state will potentially LOSE $9.30 in government revenue. The arts generate over $3.8 billion in gross state product annually, including $2.6 billion in personal income. $9.4 billion of personal income in Connecticut is derived from culture and tourism. Each visitor spends an average of $152 per day. Connecticut ranks 4th highest, among the 50 states, in the number of artists represented in the workforce and it ranks 7th in number of artists per capita. Three of Connecticut’s cities; New Haven, Stamford, and Hartford metropolitan areas - ranked in the top ten communities nation-wide in the number of non-profit arts organizations, community celebrations and festivals and arts jobs, according to a national 2006 study. “Not-For-Profits cultural organizations play a central role in creating the vibrant communities that attract creative workers and are economic generators in their own right. Cutting funds that are proven to produce a return is shortsighted even in difficult economic times,” states Ryan Odinak, Executive Director, Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County.
The Connecticut Arts Alliance (CAA) is an advocacy organization established to ensure that the arts are central to the life of Connecticut citizens. The alliance board is comprised of arts leaders from around the state.
CAA Board Members:
Cindy Clair, President, Arts Council of Greater New Haven
Frank Tavera, Vice-President, Palace Theater, Waterbury
Frank Mack, Secretary, University of Connecticut, Storrs
Peter Kelly, Treasurer, Hartford
Joyce Ahrens, Norfolk
Doug Hyland, New Britain Museum of American Art
Carol Ross, New Haven
Altta Staton, Young Audience of Connecticut, Hamden
Robbin Zella, Housatonic Museum of Art, Bridgeport
Kate Bolduc, Greater Hartford Arts Council
Bitsie Clark, New Haven
Ryan Odinak, Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County
David Roth, Hartford
Lisa Scails, Housatonic Valley Cultural Alliance, Danbury
Steve Sigel, Garde Art Center New London
Mike Stotts, Hartford Stage
Amy Wynn, Northwest Connecticut Arts Council, Torrington