In response to President Donald Trump (R) cutting funding to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Jersey City’s arts community demanded that the city council add artists and arts organizations to their budget.
Over 50 speakers from the arts community, and a council filled room of nearly a hundred of supporters, openly queried a need for leadership from the city.
While Jersey City is the second most populous city in New Jersey, next to Newark, the funded arts in Hudson County are ranked 18th out of 21 counties in the state.
Founder & Executive Director Emeritus of Art House Productions, Christine Goodman, spoke at length of the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization’s influence on the city.
Art House Productions and other community based organizations represent 766 artistic cultural educational programs, 138,115 residents and visitors, 20,033 students and create opportunities for 3,560 artists annually, according to Goodman.
“We collectively contribute over two-million dollars to the local economy annually. We serve for all of Jersey City: youth, seniors and everybody in between,” said Goodman.
“We are job creators, we improve academic performance, we support local merchants, we have a social impact, we improve healthcare, we spark innovation, we create the ability and our programming provides a platform for the many cultural voices and the rich history of our city’s residents,” said Goodman.
She also noted that council members wore the red T-shirts that read “% for the Arts:” Ward E Councilwoman Candice Osborne, Council President Rolando Lavarro and Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera who hung his T-shirt from the council panel.
According to the NEA, every dollar invested in the arts budget leads to nine-dollars in additional investment.
Each council member mentioned the impressive turnout by the arts community and stressed the importance of arts in Jersey City, both culturally and as an economic engine, according to Robinson Holloway, Chair to the Board of Trustees of the Jersey City Arts Council.
Lavarro promised the arts community further strategies and efforts to find funding for the city’s artists, while Councilwoman-at-Large Joyce Watterman stressed the importance of lasting sustainable funding.
Several council members asked for meetings with the Arts Council.
Jersey City is known for their art initiative funded by a Clean Communities Grant since 2013, the Jersey City Mural Arts Program that links local and international artists with property owners to beautify the city.