Jersey City could collect $1 million for new Arts and Culture Trust Fund

Council also sets tax rate for Open Space Trust Fund

The new Arts and Culture Trust Fund will be used to support local artists and art organizations. (photo by City of Jersey City)

The Jersey City Council has unanimously introduced an ordinance establishing the rate of the levy for the new Arts and Culture Trust Fund.

If adopted on second and final reading, New Jersey’s first municipal Arts and Culture Trust Fund will generate $1 million annually in critical long-term funding for Jersey City’s burgeoning arts community.

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The Arts and Culture Trust Fund is being implemented following the November 2020 election in which voters largely supported the sustainable funding source’s direct benefit to local artists and arts organizations, including youth and community programming.

The Arts Trust Fund is modeled on the city’s Open Space Trust Fund. The council also adopted a resolution setting the tax rate for the Open Space Trust Fund, estimated to bring in a million dollars in tax revenue every year.

The Open Space Trust Fund, established in 2017, was put on hold last year due to the pandemic and is typically used to expand and enhance green park space citywide, based on residents’ input.

Now, both tax levy rates will be set to one-quarter of a penny per $100 of assessed property value.

“Arts and open space are two key quality-of-life components, especially in urban areas like ours, that have been severely undervalued for far too long,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “We actively engaged the community, and the voters responded strongly to the need for these responsible revenue streams to strengthen our City’s infrastructure. We can now take the necessary steps to do exactly that.”

According to the city, Fulop spent two years working closely with the Jersey City Arts Council to lobby state legislators to implement the mechanisms that would allow for long-term arts funding.

Jersey City was first to take action when the state bill was signed into law by the governor in December 2019, allowing municipalities to implement an Arts and Culture Trust Fund.

“The return on investment in the arts is invaluable to the entire community, not just to artists. It’s a powerful tool with social, educational, and economic impacts that will continue to improve all of Jersey City for decades to come,” said Executive Director of the Jersey City Arts Council Macadam Smith.

“The Arts Trust will generate four times more than what all of Hudson County receives from the State each year to fund arts and cultural programs. We’re extremely encouraged by the Mayor’s partnership with us to see this through after years of advocating together for this critical investment in our city.”

Green space too

In November 2019 Jersey City announced the first allocation of the Open Space Trust Fund with $3 million in park improvements to more than 15 parks in all six wards. This first allocation of the Open Space Trust Fund is currently updating more than 20 parks in all six wards based on community input. The historic Reservoir 3 in The Heights is the largest funding recipient.

Access to public park space has become more important due to the pandemic. It’s been proven to improve residents’ mental and physical health, property values, and community engagement, among other significant benefits.

“We created the Open Space Trust Fund Committee to equitably spread significant funding throughout all six wards utilizing community feedback,” said Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey. “Now we have the potential to create meaningful, long-term support for our arts community, and to ensure we maximize this opportunity, we are using the Open Space Trust Fund and the Open Space Trust Fund Committee as a template to navigate these uncharted waters with the hopes of encouraging others to follow suit.”

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