Trump wants to cut arts funding — this is who would lose in New Jersey
President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts wouldn’t just hurt theaters and museums in New Jersey. It could also mean fewer dollars to the bars, coffee shops and restaurants around them, critics said this week.
In addition to the NEA, Trump’s proposal also would wipe out the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The annual savings of $740 million would be a fraction of the proposed $4 trillion budget.
NEA spending in New Jersey — amounting to $28.1 million since 1998, the earliest year for which data was available — is also a sliver of what the state and institutions here spend on the arts. Scroll down to the end of the story to see the full list.
And while the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, which funds hundreds of local artists and organizations, gets an annual NEA grant of about $800,000, that is nowhere near the $16 million that the council gets from its share of the hotel/motel occupancy fee.
But still, some fear the loss of government grants at a time when endowments and corporate donors are spending less on the arts in favor of other causes. They also say it's shortsighted — eliminating a government expense that pays tremendous dividends in job creation and economic development.
Timothy Shields, the managing director of the McCarter Theater in Princeton, says it's no sure bet that private donors will write checks to make up the difference in lost NEA grants.
This year the theater got $35,000 from the NEA to support its Lab, which awards commissions to playwrights and helps develop new plays. Since 1998, the NEA has awarded the theater more than $680,000, which Shields says “doesn’t amount to very much in the grand scheme of things.”
“On the other hand, it means so much to these groups who rely on the funding. They are more and more dependent on it and there is less of it to go around.”
NEA grants to New Jersey have gone to universities, museums, theaters and schools to fund exhibitions, performances, public concerts and to bring the arts to underserved populations.
Among recent recipients:
— The Matheny School in Peapack-Gladstone got $10,000 to showcase art created by people with disabilities.
— WBGO, the only jazz station in North Jersey and New York City, got $70,000 to help produce the weekly “Jazz Night in America” series featuring live performances and interviews with musicians.
— $45,000 went to support the Montclair Jazz Festival, featuring international artists and aspiring musicians from the Montclair-based Jazz House Kids, an organization that provides music education to hundreds of students.
— Jewish Community Center on the Palisades got $40,000 for the Thurnauer School of Music and its instruction of public school children in Englewood.
— Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn got $40,000 to put on autism-friendly performances and drama classes for students with disabilities.
— Two River Theater Company in Red Bank got $20,000 to help finance the production of a play by actress and playwright Regina Taylor.
— Arts Council of Princeton got $30,000 to commission a public sculpture for the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood of Princeton.
For the conservative Heritage Foundation, which has been advocating for the elimination of the NEA for decades, these are just examples of the “politically correct art" and "welfare for the corporate elitists" that underscore why they believe the NEA is wasteful spending.
Laura Petrovich-Cheney, a 49-year-old Asbury Park resident who left her elementary teaching job about five years ago to pursue a career as an artist, says preserving "our cultural identity and our creative voice" is a worthy government expense.
Petrovich-Cheney this year received an $8,600 New Jersey State Council on the Arts fellowship, which has allowed her to exhibit her artwork — created from wood salvaged from Superstorm Sandy detritus — in Boston, Nebraska and Kentucky.
“I am bringing the story of Hurricane Sandy and identity of New Jersey and the Jersey Shore to other states. This is communicating the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy to other communities," she said Friday.
“Art becomes part of this communication that we do as human beings and it enhances our humanity.”
It can also enhance the bottom line.
State budget documents estimate that the annual $16 million in arts grants helped leverage $375 million in local economic impact by creating 21,000 jobs and helping to fund 37,000 events that drew more than 6.5 million visitors, who in turn spent another $125 million last year.
The State Council on the Arts, which is part of the state Department of State headed by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, also estimates that New Jersey is home to 20,100 arts-related businesses employing 75,454 people.
"Again, I don’t understand why they don’t give the Arts Council more money," former Gov. Tom Kean says in a promotional video the council produced for its 50th anniversary. "Because it's money you're investing. You put dollars into the arts and it spreads, it grows. The arts, you get more back."
Shields says the arts help urban communities like Red Bank, New Brunswick and Newark attract visitors, who help "fill the municipal coffers" by spending money on parking and dining at restaurants that pay property taxes.
“It’s an investment in the economy and it’s an investment in the culture.”
National Endowment for the Arts grants to NJ
Total amount that every New Jersey organization received from the NEA since 1998.
|New Jersey State Council on the Arts||$15,357,400||Trenton|
|Newark Public Radio, Inc.||$1,189,843||Newark|
|McCarter Theater Company||$680,500||Princeton|
|Newark Museum Association||$587,500||Newark|
|New Jersey Symphony Orchestra||$490,000||Newark|
|Montclair State University||$450,000||Upper Montclair|
|Montclair Art Museum||$437,500||Montclair|
|International Sculpture Center, Inc.||$429,800||Hamilton|
|Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Inc.||$347,300||Millville|
|Paper Mill Playhouse||$295,000||Millburn|
|Gotham Arts Exchange, Inc.||$235,000||Weehawken|
|Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium||$225,000||Jersey City|
|New Jersey Performing Arts Center Corporation||$210,000||Newark|
|Young Audiences of New Jersey Inc.||$198,000||Princeton|
|American Boychoir School||$187,500||Princeton|
|Auricle Communications||$160,000||Jersey City|
|Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center Inc.||$155,000||Camden|
|Ironbound Community Corporation||$150,000||Newark|
|Newark Arts Council||$150,000||Newark|
|Jewish Community Center on the Palisades||$148,000||Tenafly|
|Music For All Seasons, Inc.||$142,000||Scotch Plains|
|Jazz House Kids, Inc.||$140,000||Montclair|
|Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, Inc.||$130,000||Fort Lee|
|Westfield Young Artists' Cooperative Theatre, Inc.||$130,000||Westfield|
|Crossroads, Inc.||$120,896||New Brunswick|
|Arts Horizons Inc.||$119,000||Englewood|
|Jersey City Museum, Inc.||$114,625||Jersey City|
|Trustees of Princeton University||$105,000||Princeton|
|George Street Playhouse, Inc.||$104,100||New Brunswick|
|Passage Theatre Company, Inc.||$101,000||Trenton|
|New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority||$100,000||East Rutherford|
|New Jersey Community Development Corporation||$100,000||Paterson|
|People and Stories Gente y Cuentos Inc.||$95,000||Lawrenceville|
|Peters Valley Craft Center, Inc.||$95,000||Layton|
|Union County Arts Center Inc.||$95,000||Rahway|
|Alliance for Arts Education/New Jersey||$90,000||Trenton|
|City of Perth Amboy, New Jersey||$81,676||Perth Amboy|
|Two River Theater Company||$80,000||Red Bank|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||$75,000||Teaneck|
|City of Trenton, New Jersey||$75,000||Trenton|
|New Jersey State Museum Foundation||$75,000||Trenton|
|National Poetry Series, Inc.||$71,500||Princeton|
|Visual Arts Center of New Jersey||$70,000||Summit|
|Princeton Festival A NJ Non-Profit Corporation||$62,500||Princeton|
|Morris Museum, Inc.||$60,000||Morristown|
|Institute for Arts and Humanities Education||$60,000||New Brunswick|
|Princeton Ballet Society||$60,000||New Brunswick|
|Center for Modern Dance Education||$55,000||Hackensack|
|Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Inc.||$55,000||Madison|
|Cooper's Ferry Partnership||$50,000||Camden City|
|Perkins Center for the Arts||$50,000||Moorestown|
|Communities In Schools of New Jersey, Inc.||$50,000||Newark|
|Barnegat Bay Decoy and Baymen's Museum, Inc.||$50,000||Tuckerton|
|Flemington Jewish Community Center||$49,150||Flemington|
|Chambers, Veronica V.||$45,000||Hoboken|
|Friends of Teen Arts, Inc.||$45,000||Lambertville|
|Opera New Jersey, Inc.||$44,375||Princeton|
|Matheny School and Hospital, Inc.||$43,656||Peapack|
|Burlington County College||$40,000||Pemberton|
|Arts Council of Princeton||$40,000||Princeton|
|Monmouth County Arts Council, Inc.||$40,000||Red Bank|
|William Paterson College of New Jersey||$40,000||Wayne|
|John Harms Concerts, Inc.||$35,000||Englewood|
|Newark Community School of the Arts||$35,000||Newark|
|Princeton Symphony Orchestra||$35,000||Princeton|
|Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting||$35,000||Trenton|
|Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company||$35,000||Union|
|New Jersey Institute of Technology||$33,000||Newark|
|Grounds For Sculpture Inc||$30,000||Hamilton|
|Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee||$30,000||Newark|
|Passaic County Community College||$30,000||Paterson|
|ArtPRIDE New Jersey Foundation||$28,000||Burlington|
|Lock, Norman G.||$25,000||Aberdeen|
|Hampton, Locksley||$25,000||East Orange|
|Van Gelder, Rudolph||$25,000||Englewood Cliffs|
|CavanKerry Press, Ltd.||$25,000||Fort Lee|
|Rafferty, Michael F.||$25,000||Hasbrouck Hts|
|DeSilva, Patricia A.||$25,000||Howell|
|Jones, Tayari||$25,000||Jersey City|
|Morgenstern, Dan||$25,000||Jersey City|
|Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences||$25,000||Loveladies|
|African Grove Institute for the Arts||$25,000||Newark|
|D'Rivera, Paquito||$25,000||North Bergen|
|Richardson, Jr., James E.||$25,000||Princeton|
|Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, Inc.||$21,500||Madison|
|Union County College Foundation||$20,000||Cranford|
|Appel Farm Arts and Music Center||$20,000||Elmer|
|International Institute of New Jersey||$20,000||Jersey City|
|Arts Council of the Morris Area||$20,000||Morristown|
|College of Saint Elizabeth||$20,000||Morristown|
|Parras, John||$20,000||New Milford|
|Northwest Jersey Folklife Project, Inc.||$20,000||Phillipsburg|
|Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra, Inc.||$20,000||Ridgewood|
|Park Theatre Performing Arts, Inc.||$20,000||Union City|
|Gehrke, Steven||$20,000||Upper Mont Clair|
|New Jersey Festival Orchestra||$20,000||Westfield|
|New Brunswick Cultural Center, Inc.||$18,000||New Brunswick|
|Bayshore Discovery Project, Inc.||$15,000||Port Norris|
|Count Basie Theatre, Inc.||$14,871||Red Bank|
|Schneider, Jacob D.||$12,500||Chatham|
|Symphony in C||$12,500||Collingswood|
|Carrington, Enriqueta R.||$12,500||Highland Park|
|Mary Lou Williams Foundation, Inc.||$12,500||Jersey City|
|New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Inc.||$12,000||Madison|
|Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts||$10,000||Berkeley Heights|
|Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts||$10,000||Cape May|
|Institute of Music for Children, Inc.||$10,000||Elizabeth|
|New Jersey Repertory Company||$10,000||Long Branch|
|Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc.||$10,000||Mahwah|
|Millville Development Corporation||$10,000||Millville|
|Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts, Inc.||$10,000||Montclair|
|coLAB Arts, Inc.||$10,000||New Brunswick|
|Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission||$10,000||New Brunswick|
|Community Agencies Corporation of New Jersey||$10,000||Newark|
|Sussex County Community College||$10,000||Newton|
|Passaic County Community College Foundation||$10,000||Paterson|
|Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission||$10,000||Salem|
|South Orange Performing Arts Center||$10,000||South Orange|
|Dance-New Jersey, Inc.||$10,000||South Plainfield|
|Garden State Philharmonic Symphony Society||$10,000||Toms River|
|Trenton Downtown Association, Inc.||$10,000||Trenton|
|Theater Project, a NJ Nonprofit||$10,000||Union|
|Stevens Institute of Technology||$9,627||Hoboken|
|Opera Festival of New Jersey||$7,500||Princeton|
|Ramapo College of New Jersey||$6,100||Mahwah|
|Colonial Symphony||$5,000||Basking Ridge|
|Communities of Faith for Housing||$5,000||Hoboken|
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.