Jersey City opens application process to distribute $850k from Arts and Culture Trust Fund


The City of Jersey City has opened the application process to distribute $850,000 from the Arts and Culture Trust Fund, the first allocation since voters approved it via referendum in November 2020.

Photo courtesy of the City of Jersey City.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The grants include $100,000 in artist fellowships distributed by the Jersey City Arts Council, specifically with 20 individual grants at $5,000 each.

“Our local artists and arts organizations define our City as a local destination for arts and culture, and our investments today will have invaluable impacts for generations to come,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.

“The more we support and invest in our burgeoning arts community, the more we can promote and expand wide-ranging opportunities for all of our residents. Our arts community is undergoing a revolutionary transformation that is attracting key investments and revitalization opportunities already stimulating the local economy and cultural activity, with major future advancements underway.”

Jersey City’s Arts and Culture Trust Fund generates four times the amount of what Hudson County receives in total from the state every year and grant applications are available online as of today.

The funds will support Jersey City artists, educational programming, and arts organizations that expand the impact and inclusiveness of the arts in Jersey City, build community connections through art, and develop creative and economic opportunities for artists.

Applications must include a direct public benefit, which includes detailed plans to provide a free public benefit through art, unique to each applicant depending on their work and artistic discipline, and diversity equity access and inclusion.

The city defines this as making detailed plans for making real and meaningful improvements that address barriers to ensuring all residents can participate in the arts.

“As an artist and Jersey City native, I have experienced waves of arts organizations and other artists come and go, due in part to the lack of financial support available to facilitate our contributions, which have made this City great,” noted Nyugen Smith.

“I am excited and encouraged that the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund has been established. It is absolutely in the interest of fostering creativity and puts us on par with other world-class cities that truly support their artists and creative communities.”

Jersey City was first to take action when the State bill was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in December 2019, allowing municipalities to implement an Arts and Culture Trust Fund.

“We are thrilled that the Arts and Culture Trust Fund grant applications are launching. JCAC began advocating for the creation of the trust in 2018 and it has taken years of collaboration between the arts community and local government to get us to this point,” noted Jersey City Arts Council Chair Heather Warfel Sandler.

“JCAC is proud of the influence we’ve had throughout this process, including the establishment of a diverse and deeply thoughtful trust committee, and advocating for an accessible and equitable program for all types of artists. These grants will be an economic driver not just for artists but also for all of Jersey City, and will make the city a more creative, inclusive place.”

In November 2020, Jersey City residents overwhelmingly voted in support of implementing the sustainable funding source with a $.0025 tax levy.

The Arts and Culture Trust Fund Committee was later established to oversee the Trust Fund and the allocation of all grant funding.

Virtual information sessions, eligibility requirements, pre-recorded tutorials, and other tips for applying can be found on the Jersey City Cultural Affairs website. The application deadline is March 28th at 11:59 p.m.

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