Recognizing the dire condition of State finances, contractually committed funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts has been frozen to hundreds of the State’s arts organizations. This will have a catastrophic effect on New Jersey’s arts community.
Arts organizations have made long-standing commitments to artists, vendors, staffs and patrons in reliance upon the expectation that their grant contracts with the State would be honored (by the end of the 2009 calendar year). Money that was imminently to be released by the State to arts groups is now frozen, exacerbating already fragile organizational budgets. Many that operate on a calendar year are not able to meet year end obligations, most notably payroll.
Full disbursement of these contractually committed funds is essential. In some cases, the ongoing viability of venues could well hang in the balance.
The following is a suggested response for members of the field:
1. It is imperative that those groups most affected by the funding freeze communicate with their audiences and with their district legislators. The message is:
We understand that the State of New Jersey is in a financial crisis and that all State grant funds have been frozen to non-profit groups. The commitment of grant funds was made to our organization in July and we have acted in good faith expecting, as in the past, that our grant contract would be honored by the end of the calendar year. The funding freeze has created a financial emergency (here outline specifically what may happen as a result—jobs lost, operations cease, programs cut, vendors not being paid, other financial obligations).
We ask that the Governor unfreeze State funding that will allow our organization to continue operations and stimulate our local economy.
2. This same message may be shared with local press.