New Haven Scores NEA Dough

Students at Music Haven, one of the grant recipients, practice on their box violins in fall 2017. The organization received $25,000 for programming for the next fiscal year.  Lucy Gellman File Photo. 

Students at Music Haven, one of the grant recipients, practice on their box violins in fall 2017. The organization received $25,000 for programming for the next fiscal year.  Lucy Gellman File Photo. 

First, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) received an unexpected funding boost in a year when the president called for its removal. Now, five New Haven arts institutions are getting a chunk of that sweet arts pie. 

That news came from the office of Governor Dannel Malloy Wednesday afternoon, as state legislators neared the end of a short session in Hartford. After a wobbly two years for the arts and humanities in the state (read about that here), the incoming grant funds will help several institutions stay afloat and expand programming in the coming months. 

In New Haven, those organizations include Artspace New Haven, Long Wharf Theatre, Elm Shakespeare Company, Music Haven, and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. They join a total of 15 Connecticut arts organizations (search the full list of grantees here), which are bringing in over $1 million combined. 

The funds, which draw on the NEA’s Art Works and Our Town grant programs, will go to both new and existing programming at selected organizations. At Music Haven, $25,000 will support the one-on-one, tuition-free mentorship with professional string musicians for which the organization has become known. 

$15,000 will support Elm Shakespeare’s signature August Shakespeare festival in Edgerton Park. $10,000 will support the continuation of Long Wharf’s Contemporary American Voices festival. At the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, $45,000 will go toward the outdoor presentation of Compagnia de' Colombari’s The Merchant of Venice, set for June 19-23 in the courtyard of the Yale Law School.

The festival's grantee details include that " A mock trial of Shylock will be staged in conjunction with the performances. Other engagement activities may include panels and discussions."

And for Artspace, $75,000 will go toward new design-based community collaborations from now through 2020. In the grant language submitted to the NEA, the organization wrote that the grant will “support artist residencies, youth skill-building, and arts programming to activate the Rock-to-Rock urban trail, linking East and West Rock neighborhoods.”

With the grant funding, the organization will have potter Robert Lugo working with students, fellow artists and New Haveners to craft a series of tile murals that can be installed along the 60-mile route in time for upcoming rides. The grant specified that the City of New Haven is a partner on the project. 

“Artspace is grateful to the endowment for its generous support and proud to bring Our Town placemaking support for the arts in New Haven,” wrote Artspace Executive Director Helen Kauder in an email Wednesday night. 

“We look forward to partnering with a roster of organizations, including those behind the annual Rock-to-Rock Earth Day Ride, to develop place-based, neighborhood-driven ceramic murals and tile works, supporting potter Roberto Lugo and other socially engaged artists and youth apprentices.”

From Hartford, Malloy congratulated all grant recipients in a press release Wednesday afternoon. 

“Connecticut is home to a uniquely vibrant and diverse arts community,” he said.  “Our painters, sculptors, musicians, and craftsman contribute not only to our state’s culture, but to our economic prosperity as well.”

In Connecticut, data from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) states that museums bring in $834 million a year, generating $223.5 million in taxes ($146 million in federal and $77.5 million in state and local) and 10,229 jobs overall, including part-time, contract and temporary staff. On a national level, those numbers total $50 billion for the economy, with $12 billion in taxes and 726,000 jobs. 

More broadly, Malloy noted that “arts and cultural production accounts for over $9 billion in value added to the Connecticut economy, and supports over 57,000 jobs.”

“These vital funds will be used to supplement the ongoing efforts to strategically support the thousands of arts organizations throughout the state,” said Kristina Newman-Scott, executive director of the Connecticut Office of the Arts and State Historic Preservation Office. “We are thrilled that Connecticut has been awarded these funds and look forward to using them to increase arts and culture throughout the state.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the Office of the Arts’ second annual Connecticut Arts Day and announcement earlier this year that Newman-Scott’s position is now permanent, and will not risk being cut with a new gubernatorial administration.