OK. I am going to be a HOMER again. From our Friends at ArtPRIDE New Jersey we have the combined responses to an arts questionnaire posed to our two candidates; Jon Corzine and Doug Forrester. Enjoy!
1. Do you support state funding for the arts administered by the NJ State Council on the Arts through the dedicated revenues source provided by the hotel/motel occupancy fee (a minimum of $22.78 million)?
Jon Corzine: Yes. I support the continued implementation of the 2003 hotel/motel occupancy dedication as a practical way to ensure continuous funding for the arts, cultural and historical trusts.
Doug Forrester: Yes. The primary reason the hotel/motel tax was enacted in the first place was to provide a significant percentage of the revenues to arts and history, which constitute an important part of the State’s tourism industry. I support maintaining the “floor” that was established in the legislation, and working toward enhancing economic growth so that we reach the $100 million mark that will in turn result in automatic increases in the amount dedicated to the arts and history.
2. Do you support full funding of the NJ Cultural Trust? (state commitment is $10 million/year which has been met only twice since the Trust was legislated in 2000).
Jon Corzine: I will review all state spending if I am elected Governor, including the failure to fully fund the New Jersey Cultural Trust. If state funding is not available, I am committed to working with advocates of the arts to provide leadership in efforts to supplement funding through economic development, historic preservation and other related public and private sources of capital. I believe that artistic and cultural endeavors require both public and private resources. I am proud of my role in supporting the arts, including serving on the boards of both the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Doug Forrester: Yes. As you are no doubt aware, the Cultural Trust is an excellent example of an innovative public/private partnership that provides a stable and permanent source of funding for the arts and history. It supports areas not covered by arts agencies such as capital improvements, debt reduction, endowments, and financial stabilization.
Unfortunately for the arts and history community, the Trust is yet another example of the lack of accountability shown by the current administration and legislative majorities in Trenton. The private sector has met its goals by giving more than $40 million to endowments of arts and history organizations or directly to the Trust. However, the State Government has failed to meet its annual commitment of $10 million.
No doubt this breach of promise has had a chilling effect upon donations from the private sector. As Governor, my administration will work to ensure that this program is put back on track.
3. Would you help promote the arts through intra-governmental agency cooperation (arts and tourism, arts education, travel related signage, arts and aging/health related issues, etc.)?
Jon Corzine: Yes. New Jersey has tremendous arts “assets,” such as the Newark PAC to the State Theater and so many other wonderful arts and cultural institutions that the government should promote and invest in. I am a strong believer in an “invest, grow and prosper” philosophy and the arts play a critical role in the state’s tourism industry.
Doug Forrester: Yes. My tourism promotion program includes greater investment in travel-related signage that could benefit the cultural attractions that form a vital portion of New Jersey’s tourism industry.
I would also note that the arts can be promoted through the overall tone of an administration. My friend and mentor, Governor Kean, infused appreciation of the arts throughout his administration, and I would seek to do the same.
4. Do you believe that every student should have arts education as part of a basic education, and do you support the implementation of the visual and performing arts education standards for New Jersey schools?
Jon Corzine: Yes. I believe every child benefits from arts education. I think the arts are something that bridge the differences in our society. Arts create a place where people can touch each other's lives across racial, gender, political, all kinds of lines. It enlightens our lives. It's an extraordinary, positive ingredient. While I ended up as a CEO of a major investment company, I started as the 21st clarinet in my school’s band. I know this is a critical issue right now as the No Child Left Behind Act standards are being implemented and I will work with art advocates to ensure that the state’s current arts content standards are implemented.
Doug Forrester: Yes. To the extent that the Core Curriculum Standards are insufficient in this regard, I would consider amending them to provide for enhanced visual and performing arts education.
Interestingly, we know that not everyone learns in the same way, and that education in the arts often can serve to reinforce other aspects of the curriculum. A Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching monograph reported that young people who participate in the arts for at least nine hours each week for one year are:
4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement;
3 times more likely to be elected to class office at their school;
4 times more likely to participate in a math or science fair;
3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance; and
4 times more likely to win an award for an essay or a poem.
These are compelling statistics. However, beyond the data, I have seen first-hand the value of an education in the arts with my own son, who is currently studying music in college.
5. Are you familiar with ArtsPlan NJ as a statewide blueprint to create a better New Jersey for and through the arts?
Jon Corzine: Yes. I support the vision and goals of “ArtsPlan NJ” to make New Jersey a “State of the Arts.”
As a business leader and policy maker, I know the economic impact of cultural institutions on the revitalization of communities. In New Brunswick, for example, the vitality of the theaters and museums has directly contributed to the success of restaurants, coffee shops and other “local supporting” industries and businesses. In locales around the state that have embraced this type of development a common denominator is the strength of the cultural community which celebrates differences and respects similarities.
Doug Forrester: Yes. I received the document at my campaign office. I support the plan and am impressed by the wide array of New Jersey citizens who gave their time and effort to develop it. I congratulate everyone involved with this valuable and thorough undertaking.
6. Please take this opportunity to provide additional comments on how you view the arts and culture as public policy issues.
Jon Corzine: My record in the U.S. Senate speaks for my commitment to the arts and culture. In an effort to support cultural and artistic community programs, I voted three times to protect Community Development Block Grants. These vital grants support New Jersey’s major cultural projects in cities, including public art, children’s museums and youth-based after school programs.
Public media outlets have a multi-dimensional purpose, including serving as a platform for arts awareness, education and appreciation as well as a direct source of news and informational programming. When conservatives tried to silence PBS through massive proposed budget cuts, I fought to restore funding and called for the removal of the ideological and partisan leadership.
I support promoting artistic expression and appreciation. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to support deductions of artistic contributions to arts organizations and nonprofit institutions for tax purposes. I cosponsored and voted for legislation that would allow artists to deduct artistic contributions to non-profit institutions.
Doug Forrester: Promotion of the arts and history are critical to life in New Jersey. As I mentioned above, the arts are a critical component in the education of our children. Furthermore, the arts provide tangible economic benefits. The arts can help to revitalize urban areas by attracting patrons to shops and restaurants. Support of the arts and history can also make our urban areas more vital places in non-working hours.
New Jersey is replete with examples of the arts being a cornerstone for economic development. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Newark Museum, the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank and the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts in Cape May are but a few examples. It is almost impossible to believe, but a mere two decades ago, Lambertville was one of the most economically depressed small cities in the State. With the arts community leading the way, it is now a prosperous and diverse community that is a nationally-recognized tourism destination and the home for a number of renowned artists.
The arts also play a pivotal role in the tourism industry, and offer travel experiences beyond our beautiful beaches and boardwalks. Places like the Tony award-winning McCarter Theater, on whose board I used to sit, bring the very best theater right here to New Jersey, making it accessible to people who cannot or will not travel to New York City due to age, unaffordable prices for tickets, or disability.
The arts are also a critical component in business attraction and retention. We know from the Port Authority study in the 1990’s that arts and culture are an important factor when CEO’s decide where they want to locate, or whether they are going to leave. Throughout my campaign, I have called attention to the unfavorable business climate that is the result of high taxes, runaway wasteful spending and the culture of corruption emanating from Trenton. In order to reverse this disturbing trend, New Jersey will need to marshal every advantage we have to keep good jobs here and attract new businesses. The power of the arts community can aid greatly in this effort.
As my mentor and former boss, Governor Tom Kean, used to say, “We cannot forget the intangibles.” The arts and history are important to preserve and promote because they are important in their own right. They enrich and inform our lives. They can bridge the differences in society that separate us. The arts can even save and give new purpose to lives that have been harmed through tragedy.
Finally, the arts also endow our citizens with civic pride in our wonderful State. I am proud that I live in a place where my neighbors can readily admire a thing of beauty, get greater insight into the world at large, or simply have an evening of happiness and celebration. I am proud that I live in a State where many cultures are on display, and I hope to lead a State where appreciation of the arts will resonate throughout the Nation.
As I said in an earlier post… the level of discussion on some very complex arts issues shows we really are making progress.
For all my New Jersey brethren… PLEASE VOTE ON TUESDAY!