Arts groups get state funding

Gov. M. Jodi Rell awarded a total of approximately $733,000 last Friday to 94 Connecticut arts organizations, a number of them based in New Haven.

The state Arts Endowment Fund will distribute the money to a variety of organizations throughout the state, including museums, ballets and theaters. There are no strings attached to the money, but the amount of each award is based on the amount of private funding raised by each recipient organization, Rell spokesman Adam Liegeot said.

The awards are intended to reward organizations that have developed strong privately-owned funding bases, an achievement that is likely to increase their longevity, Liegeot said.

“The governor is pleased to see that we can encourage development in funding resources for several New Haven area arts organizations,” he said. “It promotes their long term stability, and the governor is pleased to reward it.”

Artspace, a local arts nonprofit, was awarded nearly $3,000 this year, Executive Director Helen Kauder said. Although the amount is relatively modest in comparison with Artspace’s operating budget, Kauder said, the money will be used to help cover operating costs, including health benefits for members of the staff.

“These are necessary expenses to assure the delivery of arts programs, but funders rarely cover them,” she said.

Securing funding for arts programs can be difficult for many organizations, said Ethan Heard ’07, who worked as a production assistant at the Long Wharf Theater this fall. According to the press release, the Long Wharf was awarded almost $25,000 this year, half the amount awarded to the Hartford Stage company.

“With the era of subscription ticket sales on its way out, regional theatres like the Long Wharf need serious financial help to reach out to new, younger theatergoers,” Heard said.

Though the awards might constitute a small fraction of the funds needed to run a nonprofit arts organization, Rell said in a statement that they represent a commitment to the development of the arts in Connecticut. Recognizing the work done by these organizations to promote arts in the community, she said, the program is designed to educate people through the arts.

“We continue to strengthen the arts in Connecticut and make artistic experiences widely available to residents and visitors,” Rell said. “These groups do tremendous work on behalf of the arts every day. Through our grant programs, we invest in Connecticut artists and arts organizations and encourage the public’s participation as creators, learners, supporters and audience members.”

Kauder said she is looking forward to a further private funding increase in the coming year, which would be accompanied by a larger grant.

Long Wharf officials were unavailable for comment Sunday.

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