Gov. Phil Murphy has signed into law S-3521, which provides $15 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid for arts and cultural venues throughout New Jersey. The bill—sponsored by Senators Joseph Lagana, Dawn Marie Addiego, and Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Linda Carter, Angela McKnight, and Eric Houghtaling—focuses on providing aid to arts and cultural organizations in need of support as a result of the public health emergency. The bill is part of a five-bill, $100 million relief effort aimed at helping New Jersey’s small businesses recover from the year-long pandemic.
“Our arts and cultural establishments are among the best in the nation, but they have faced difficult challenges over the past year,” said Murphy. “It’s time we lifted up these organizations and venues to ensure they are still with us as we emerge from the pandemic and look to once again experience the joy they offer.”
“These relief dollars will put thousands back to work, boost the economy, and help ensure New Jersey’s arts industry survives to safely do what they do best—bring people together to dream, learn, heal and create,” said Secretary of State Tahesha Way, whose department includes the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
“One of the greatest sacrifices the COVID-19 pandemic has required is the significant scaling back of in-person art events and performances. This has been a loss for our communities, our culture, and most of all performers and the venues that host them,” said NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.
“Arts and culture organizations are at the cornerstone of our communities. They give residents a space to gather, express themselves creatively and explore their passions,” said Senator Addiego. “With this funding, we can save many of these organizations on the brink of closing for good, allowing them to thrive during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Sen. Gopal noted, “… in difficult times, the arts, and cultural organizations that support the arts, are among the first parts of society to suffer,” “One need look no further than the Theater District in New York City to see the devastating effect the pandemic had on those who produce, work and perform in Broadway shows. We have many wonderful arts and cultural programs in the Garden State, as well, and we need to do all we can to lift them up as they struggle to regain their footing in what is still a difficult and logistically trying time.”
The relief aid will be administered by both the NJEDA and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Specifically, the bill makes available $7.5 million to the EDA for for-profit organizations and $7.5 million to the State Council on the Arts for non-profit organizations. To date, the NJEDA has distributed more than $250 million in aid to some 55,000 businesses across the state.