As you may already be aware, due to the 25% cut to New Jersey State Council on the Arts appropriations, Individual Artist Fellowship grants were suspended this year. These grants are highly competitive and awarded to a small number of individual artists to support their professional development. In a letter issued to the applicants by the council chair and the executive director, this difficult decision was explained:
The Council’s Grants Committee wrestled with a number of difficult choices in an environment of reduced resources. They weighed the important impact a Fellowship grant can have on the 20 to 30 artists each year who receive them and funding to arts organizations that employ, engage, exhibit, present and serve over 27,000 artists each year and the support needed to keep those opportunities available. While support to organizations also had to be reduced, the Committee determined that limited funds could have the greatest impact for the largest number of artists by keeping those opportunities available as much as possible.
Despite their best efforts, as a result of the economic climate it is still unclear as to whether the Artist Fellowship grants will be reinstated next year. In addition to the many letters we have received from members of arts organizations, we have also gotten feedback from several individual artists sharing how these particular cuts affect them. Here is one such letter:
I applied for a 2010 Individual Artist Fellowship grant this year and met the July 15 deadline. I am extremely upset that NJ is being skipped over and left out of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation fellowship program this year. Does this mean that categories for 2009 (2011) arts grants will be “gifted” two cycles in a row? This hardly seems fair! Or, will the entire Mid Atlantic Fellowship grant Cycle be rewritten for New Jersey? I doubt that and I am sure I am not the only grant applicant that sees this injustice. The only communication I have received is that my grant application is being kept on file. I have not applied for a grant before and find it more than interesting to be in the middle of such turmoil. Please keep advised of news or changes in the political and financial situation of these grants not only in NJ but in the Mid Atlantic states, as well.
Thank you for your anticipated response.