New Jersey State Council on the Arts approves more than $35.6M in grants

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The New Jersey State Council on the Arts recently awarded more than $35.6 million in grants to support more than 700 arts organizations, projects and artists throughout the state. The grants were approved at the arts council’s 55th annual meeting, held virtually. The awards are part of the largest state appropriation the council has ever received in its 55-year history: $31.9 million as part of the state budget approved by Gov. Phil Murphy last month. These grant awards also included $7.5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds, which were signed into law by Murphy earlier this year as part of a multibill package aimed at economic recovery.

“The innovation New Jersey’s arts community has shown over these last 16 months is absolutely awe-inspiring,” Secretary of State Tahesha Way said at the meeting. “The arts have been a crucial source of healing and connection throughout the pandemic, and I am proud to work closely with the state arts council as they lead the field with responsive grants and services so people can continue to enjoy and engage with New Jersey arts.”

In Union County, the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs received $434,439 for its local arts program. Additionally, Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company in Union received $62,964 for dance; Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, recently renamed Vivid Stage, in Summit received $35,000 for theater; Institute of Music of Children in Elizabeth received $65,750 for arts education; Kean University’s Premiere Stages in Union received $42,228 for theater; Music for All Seasons in Scotch Plains received two grants, for $30,000 and $52,775, for arts education and music, respectively; the New Jersey Festival Orchestra in Westfield received $80,000 for music; the New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra in New Providence received $35,000 for music; the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts in Berkeley Heights received $60,000 for music; and Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit received $134,785 for visual arts.

“We are grateful to Gov. Murphy and the legislature for this monumental increase in funding and for recognizing the need for robust public support of the arts right now,” council Chairperson Elizabeth Mattson said. “This funding is not only vital to ensuring the arts can continue to move forward and innovate, but will support important work to foster a more equitable and inclusive arts community. We know there is still much work to be done, and we look forward to working alongside our partners and colleagues in the field as we embark on a new chapter together.”

While $35.6 million of the Council’s budget was voted on at the meeting, a remaining $4.1 million will be granted out later this year as part of a new capital needs–based program.

In line with the council’s priority to help achieve fieldwide stability and recovery, multiyear commitments and statewide service initiatives for the field have been increased. In line with the council’s priority to broaden access and impact, funding for the council’s Local Arts Program, which serves all 21 counties, has been tripled. To lessen the administrative burden for grantees, requirements have been temporarily amended, as feasible.