At the 54th annual meeting of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts on Oct. 27, the Arts Council of Princeton was named the recipient of a $50,000 grant in an effort to support New Jersey’s arts organizations in weathering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grant represents a portion of $16.3 million dollars awarded in total during the annual meeting, which directly awarded grants to over 700 arts organizations throughout the state.
“I am in awe of the innovation our arts community has shown in the face of the tremendous struggles of these last several months, and I am incredibly proud of the State Arts Council for their responsive grants and services to help the sector every step of the way,” said Secretary of State Tahesha Way. According to the State Council’s website, grants for general operating support are awarded on the basis of artistic quality, accessibility, educational commitments, and more.
According to Adam Welch, the Arts Council of Princeton’s new director, the Arts Council has been receiving grants from the State Council on the Arts since its inception, with grant amounts determined based on the organization’s contributions to multiple municipalities and diverse communities. The grant “is used to fund [...] what we call general operating support,” Welch said, meaning that it is particularly instrumental in helping “pay the electricity [and] keep the doors open.”
In typical times, a large portion of funding and support comes from private donors and is intended for a specific discipline or purpose, meaning that this funding cannot be used in such a broad-scale setting. “There might be a funder who says, ‘I’m going to support plein-air oil painting,’” Welch explained. As such, for an arts organization like the Arts Council of Princeton, the fact that private donations typically outweigh government grants by three or four times in a given year can be damaging to both general operations and neglected areas in need of funding.
During a time in which arts organizations have been financially damaged on a worldwide scale, the State Council’s grant has taken on new meaning and value. Over the past fiscal year, the Arts Council of Princeton has lost roughly half of its preexisting revenue streams from tuition and classes as a result of pandemic-related limitations, causing a greater reliance on annual appeals to donors for operating support. In light of this, the grant will help the Arts Council continue to sustain both itself and its instructors, particularly as the pandemic reaches new and record-breaking case numbers that are sure to limit operations into the future.
At present, the Arts Council is offering a wide variety of classes that are held both in-person and online, all of which can be found through its website, in addition to public art projects and one-day workshops tailored towards the upcoming holiday season. Of particular interest is an upcoming “winter village” that will be ongoing in Princeton throughout the month of December until Christmas in order to sustain demand for holiday shopping.
Welch said that, in the past few months, “We’ve done a lot of art projects out and around town to show the community that there’s still beauty in the world [...] and [that] there’s still hope.”