Funding for arts grants stays stable

While Connecticut’s arts funding will dwindle next year, the City of New Haven will continue to dole out grants to local artists.

The city of New Haven announced Monday that money allocated to the Mayor’s Community Arts Grant Program funding cycle would remain at $25,000. Though city leaders discussed cutting that funding at the Board of Aldermen’s Finance Committee on Monday, the Director of Cultural Affairs for the city of New Haven, Barbara Lamb, said her office will try to sustain last year’s funding and programs.

“We’re trying desperately to keep everything the same,” she said, noting that one staff member had already been laid off. “I think it’s more important to support the arts in this time of crisis; it’s a time when people need art the most.”

The grant program is designed to provide grants of up to $2,000 to artists and neighborhood organizations in three areas: arts, cultural heritage and youth/artist development. Program coordinators said the grants are not meant to provide full funding for the programs, but to provide initial funding.

“The program provides seed funding,” Kim Futrell, the Outreach Coordinator for the city of New Haven, said.

The grants are mainly given to organizations that have a community focus: Award winners in the 2008-’09 funding cycle were the Wooster Square Association’s “Cherry Blossom Festival,” which will take place this Sunday, April 19, and the Arts Council’s 14th annual “Audubon Arts on the Edge” festival. The program has supported over 140 organizations since it began in 2000.

In February, the announcement of statewide cuts in arts funding this February imperiled New Haven organizations such as the Greater Arts Council of New Haven, the Festival of Arts and Ideas and the Shubert Theater.

But at City Hall, Lamb said budget cuts were not so dramatic.

“[The Department of Cultural Affairs’s] budget was not affected, so it made sense to continue to give out the same amount,” she said.

She added: “Ideally I would have wanted to give out more.”

City spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said the city will remain committed to providing arts funding.

“The arts are definitely a priority in the City of New Haven,” she said. “We continue to support culture as is evident in our current projects downtown.”

Artists and groups interested in grants can attend one of the following free meetings: May 4 at 5 p.m. at the Fair Haven Library, May 5 at 5 p.m. at the Wilson (Hill) Library, May 6 at 5:30 p.m at the Downtown Library, May 7 at 5 p.m. at the Mitchell Library and May 12 at 5 p.m at the Stetson Library.

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