"Why Should I Care About the Arts?"
Arts Advocacy in New Jersey
You will not find another state where the arts community is as tightly knit as it is here in New Jersey.
What’s our secret? New Jersey is a small, but densely populated state, with a wealth of arts organizations in every community – urban, suburban and rural - even in the farthest corners of north and south Jersey. And, unlike many other states, the arts enjoy a dedicated state public funding source, thanks to a hotel/motel occupancy fee which has been in place since 2004. Add to that the Dodge Foundation’s decades-long support of both new and established arts groups throughout the state as well as the support of many other private funders.
Art Pride: The Key to New Jersey’s Success
But truly, the key to New Jersey’s success is the strong arts advocacy and arts community-building efforts of Art Pride, as well as a network of arts service organizations that help strengthen the field.
Dodge believes that a coordinated and sustained advocacy effort is essential to the long term success of the arts community, which is why we’ve made arts advocacy, led by Art Pride, one of our signature initiatives.
Not only did Art Pride head the campaign to establish the hotel/motel occupancy fee, remarkably, they have convinced New Jersey legislators for seven years now to preserve that source of funding by helping them as well as New Jersey residents understand and embrace the value of the arts:
- To inspire learning and encourage creativity.
Have you ever taken a dance or music class? Or attended a play at the theatre? Enjoyed a visit to a museum? Do your kids take art class in school?
- To reinvigorate neglected public spaces.
Have you ever admired a mural or a sculpture in a park? Have you ever seen a dilapidated warehouse converted into a cool gallery or performance space?
- To attract businesses and new neighbors to our communities.
Wouldn’t you like to live in a town with a professional theater or a performing arts center?
- And to provide jobs.
Your neighbors and friends? They work at the theater and performing arts center as teachers, box office managers, artists, and in many other capacities.
“Art Pride works hard to demonstrate that the arts are not a luxury and should not be an easy target for budget cuts,” explains Art Pride Executive Director Ann Marie Miller. “They are an integral part of our everyday lives and a vital economic engine for New Jersey.”
In fact, the arts bring more than $1.5 billion to New Jersey's economy every year through
direct spending by cultural groups (payroll, facility maintenance, goods and services), and the indirect spending of arts patrons (restaurants, shopping, parking, hotel accommodations).
Strategic Partners: Service Organizations
While Art Pride enthusiastically advocates on behalf of the arts community, service organizations such as Dance New Jersey, the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, and the South Jersey Cultural Alliance provide a solid network of support and business resources, enabling arts groups to grow and thrive here. As a result, the New Jersey arts community has emerged regionally and nationally as a source of rich and diverse cultural opportunities. In fact, premieres of theatre, music and dance works, and museum exhibitions, which people will see across the country, often originate right here in New Jersey.
The Arts & You
At one time or another, you have probably heard someone doubt the value of the arts. “Why should I care – especially in this economy?” they ask. But the success of the New Jersey arts community - buoyed by dedicated service organizations - and the example of its biggest cheerleader, Art Pride, proves to us that the arts touch all of our lives, without exception, all of the time.
The earlier title for this blog post was “Another One Bites the Dust,” prompted by notice from Dance NJ staff that dance critic Robert Johnson is no longer writing for The Star Ledger, but is now working on a freelance basis. By now all are familiar with the Ledger’s new business model and the resulting journalistic staff layoffs that accompanied its Newark headquarters closure...Read More
As state and local leaders convene in Atlantic City today to discuss the city’s fate in light of falling casino revenues and increasing casino closures, they should be reminded of recent investments in its arts and culture that are already changing the face of the state’s legendary vacation destination — not just because they are valuable to any community, but because they will ...Read More