James – ‘Do Not Cut The Heart Out Of New Jersey’

Senator Pushes for Rethinking of Arts and Culture Cuts in FY 2007 Budget

TRENTON – Senator Sharpe James, D-Essex and Union, the Vice Chair of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the Committee’s hearing today on the FY2007 Department of State budget, and funding for arts and cultural programs in New Jersey:

“During the Great Depression, the lights did not dim on Broadway. At our nation’s darkest fiscal moments, the luminaries of the time realized that without art, without cultural achievement, we have nothing to give subsequent generations of Americans.

“When we look at the FY 2007 Budget, we need to keep in mind the same priorities which helped guide us through a national budget crisis with our cultural sense intact.

“In a State budget in excess of $30 billion, there has to be room for the arts and culture in New Jersey. We need to rethink the most drastic cuts which will have a major impact on New Jersey and its cultural offerings.

“When we go to the same well, tough budget year after tough budget year, and tell arts and cultural programs that they have to do more with less, pretty soon, the message turns into, ‘Close up shop, New Jersey can’t afford you.’

“However, I think we cannot afford not to have a sense of cultural and artistic identity that is unique to New Jersey. Persistent and drastic cuts to arts funding are equivalent to cutting out the heart of the Garden State, and that is simply unacceptable.

“In the City of Newark, arts programs offer a rare opportunity for children to pull themselves up from poverty and into the spotlight, to transcend the limitations of their economic stature and shine with the brightness of a star.

“As we negotiate Governor Corzine’s Fiscal Year 2007 Budget, we need to take a serious look at every option before we accept drastic cuts in State assistance to arts and cultural programs. The loss of arts programs is not borne by those adults who were raised to appreciate the impact culture has on our lives. But rather, we must think of those children, in Newark and elsewhere, who have not yet felt the grace of art and culture in their lives.

“We need to protect our artistic and cultural past, to ensure the humanity and sensitivity of our future.”