Will the City Arts Stimulus Create Jobs for Artists?

Posted on Wednesday, April 15 2009 by Heather Brandon

In his state of the city address last month, Mayor Eddie Perez announced what he called a Hartford arts stimulus—a proposed $1.7 million increase in grants to Hartford arts organizations to “create new works, new performances, and expand facilities.” He anticipated the stimulus would create hundreds of new jobs in the city—and would be used exclusively (the mayor’s language) to create new Hartford jobs. He added that funding for the arts stimulus would come from reprogrammed city funds as well as federal grants.

A release issued this week by the Greater Hartford Arts Council—a regional non-profit organization based in Hartford—indicates that at some point in the last month, the mayor’s stated goal of exclusively creating new jobs with this funding got massaged into a different kind of goal.

If the release is accurate, the proposed funding would “directly create, enhance, or preserve jobs.” Enhancing and preserving jobs would mean the stimulus might go toward already existing employment opportunities—not to the exclusive creation of new jobs. What exactly is the mayor proposing, and how did this key variation announced during the state of the city proposal get twisted into something quite different?

A meeting is being held tomorrow, Thursday, April 16, starting at 10:00 am, to discuss the arts stimulus, which the GHAC release calls the Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grant Program.

The event is free and open to the public, and will take place at Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor Street. Expected to speak at this event, being billed as an “information session,” are Perez; David Panagore, the city’s Director of Development Services; and Ken Kahn, GHAC’s executive director—representing an entity that is presumably a potential applicant for the funding. Or will it now channel the funding, and take a percentage?

Below is an email release circulated yesterday afternoon by Elizabeth White, grants administrator for GHAC. Compare the additional wording on the nature of the funding to this slightly different media release (PDF) issued by GHAC’s cultural promotions and marketing manager, Katherine Gill.

THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 10:00AM – 11:30AM

The City of Hartford and The Greater Hartford Arts Council are hosting an information session regarding the Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grant Program proposed by Mayor Eddie A. Perez. Although the funds supporting the proposed grant program have not yet been confirmed, we would like to prepare artists and organizations for this potential funding source. This session will detail eligibility, timeline, grant conditions, and review criteria.

The Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grant is designed to create and preserve jobs city-wide through funding for arts and heritage programming and projects. The program would be open to nonprofit organizations and artists based within the City of Hartford.

Grants would be intended to help area arts organizations initiate new or expand current productions, exhibitions, events and youth employment programs, as well as improve facilities. All funded programs must take place between July 1, 2009 and June 30th, 2010. Each grant must directly create, enhance, or preserve jobs in the City of Hartford.

The grant information session on April 16th is free and open to the public. For directions to Real Art Ways and free parking information, please click here.

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