Zero Dollars

An edit of a recently-sent e-mail. Note there is an update to the situation, but things still look tough.

Subject: Discover Jersey Arts…While They Last!
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2003 8:27:44
From: Mike Mariano

Read the article courtesy of our friends at the Star-Ledger:

McGreevey Lops All Aid for the Arts

While I was an intern at the State Council on the Arts, the annual budget for all state arts funding through NJ had just passed $20 million after over a decade of recovery. The bubble-burst economy caused the 2002-2003 budget to drop to around $18 million. This morning McGreevey announced that for 2003-2004 the budget drops again, to ZERO DOLLARS. The Arts Council is the biggest single source of income for almost every NJ arts organization; this *will* drive some of the smaller organizations out of business. What Jesse Helms and urine-Christ-in-a-jar couldn’t do nationally McGreevey has done in the Garden State.

This means really hard times here at McCarter Theatre, though luckily interns are not first against the wall when the creditors come. (More-than-full time labor for $75 a week? A non-profit’s best friend.) But in the fall McCarter must open a new theatre space, and iron out just how much longer shows can run in the smaller theatre. There will be growing pains at precisely the time we can’t afford to have them.

Things are grim on the other side of the budget line, too. McGreevey plans to cut 48 jobs from the Department of State, which is a jaw-dropping number. There are only 20-something employees (if even) at the state Arts Council, and down the hall the Historical Commission has about five. With only nine other agencies in the State Department I don’t think it’s possible to cut some of these jobs without axing entire agencies, which might be the point. It was fun seeing the guys from the Old Barracks walk around Trenton eating pizza in full Colonial uniform. Those days might be numbered.

I’m in the wrong job hunt in the wrong field in the wrong state at the wrong time. What now?

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