Leaders in Connecticut's arts community were stunned Wednesday over Gov.
The proposed cuts have raised concern as more than 20 different programs have a zero placed next to their names in Malloy's budget. The groups have already set their fiscal plans for 2012, and could have their state funding disappear in the middle of the year.
The cuts include $2.1 million from the Connecticut Humanities Council, nearly $800,000 from the
Catherine Smith, commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, told legislators on the appropriations committee Wednesday that Malloy was "moving away from an earmarked, line item by line item grant'' for the arts.
"The goal is not to zero-out these organizations, despite what it looks like on paper,'' Smith said during an afternoon budget hearing with legislators. "We do want to move toward that notion that people will apply for funding on an annual basis.''
At the same time, Malloy is calling for spending an additional $10 million on statewide marketing to help increase tourism under the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
At a public hearing Wednesday night, the leaders of some of the state's marquee arts organizations, including
"We were all very surprised,'' said Stuart Parnes, executive director of the Connecticut Humanities Council. "We were all shocked. … We don't know what the guidelines [for future funding] will be at this point.''
The leaders of the Shubert, Palace, and
The proposed cuts would affect organizations throughout the state, including:
In response to a question during the afternoon hearing, Smith said she did not know if arts groups were told in advance that their grants would be sliced to zero.
Sen. Robert Duff, D-Norwalk, said he was "not completely comfortable with this in the way it was rolled out." He added, "The legislative branch, as a co-equal branch of government, has a role to play, too.''
Later, Smith said that the state would be increasing money for tourism to $25 million and would be developing a new "brand" for Connecticut.
"The governor worked on the 'I Love New York' campaign when he was in law school,'' Smith told Sen.
Harp responded that television advertising is "really, really expensive'' to broadcast.
"This is what the research will inform us about on where to spend the dollars,'' Smith responded. "We want to be aiming at a younger, maybe 30 to 50, age market. ... We're mostly a drive-to state for tourism.''
As such, some advertising would be targeted at states like Rhode Island and New Jersey because vacationers can drive from those states to Connecticut, she said.
"We will be happy to come back to this committee and any others once those decisions are made,'' Smith said, adding that she would have more answers in April.
The New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas has been on the budget-cutting list at times in the past, but former state Rep.
This year's event will be the 17th annual festival, coming on the heels of a successful 2011 festival that included a free concert on the
Smith's deputy, Kip Bergstrom, has held five forums throughout the state to inform the arts community about the proposed changes for competitive grants and a "transition'' period for funding. The meetings started Jan. 24 in New Haven, and the most recent was Wednesday in Hartford. But Parnes said that the cuts were never discussed by Bergstrom at the sessions.
"None of this,'' Parnes said, "was ever mentioned at those meetings.''