The New Jersey State Council on the Arts increased grants to arts organizations across North Jersey and a token few to South Jersey. They distributed close to $16 million which is $1.2 million more than last year. Last year then-Governor Jon Corzine cut their grants budget by 25%. They have also reinstated grants to individuals.

I’m happy with the increases but am surprised. NJ’s new governor Christie has been addressing the state’s fiscal problems largely by making severe cuts. So a common misinformed criticism – the sort you will hear from demagogues on NJ 101.5 FM – might be “Here we are laying off teachers and cops and firemen and the state funds this wasteful nonsense.” Or sadly an actual quote (video worth watching) from Glenn Beck (8/05/2010): “… when you grocery shop, no more meats, organics, milk — we’re cutting that out. Just get Mountain Dew and Cheetos … How about we get the rich who never pay their fair share to buy their stupid snotty opera house? Would you cut the opera house or the cops? … What does your gut tell you? That everybody involved in this is moron?”

The fact is that these grants are  funded by the Hotel-Motel Occupancy Fee that is paid largely by people from out of state. If you want to look at the state arts spending from a purely pecuniary interest (which I don’t) it can be argued that the budget adds to NJ’s largest industry which is tourism. The billions in tax revenue from just tourism pays for the state’s arts spending many times over – and it decreases the total amount of tax that residents need to pay.

The grant amounts include $2,208,966 to “Music” (orchestras and choirs) organizations and $1,107,147 to Opera or Musical Theater organizations. (Somehow Opera doesn’t count as “music”). The largest grant is to the North New Jersey Symphony Orchestra: $ 1,175,557

You can download the entire list of grants from the NJSCA wesbsite .

Music

American Boychoir School Mercer : $154,863
Bay-Atlantic Symphony Cumberland : $38,640
Camden County Cultural & Heritage Commission Camden: $4,000
Colonial Symphony Morris : $ 35,007
Garden State Philharmonic Ocean : $ 31,044
Greater South Jersey Chorus, Inc. Camden : $ 5,250
Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra Mercer : $33,651
Hunterdon County Chorus S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. Hunterdon : $5,250
JCC on the Palisades-Thurnauer School Music Bergen : $44,858
New Jersey Choral Society Bergen : $9,610
New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra Union : $5,393
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Essex : $ 1,175,557
New Jersey Youth Symphony Union : $ 36,718
New Philharmonic of New Jersey Morris: $14,740
Newark Boys Chorus School Essex : $ 61,672
Newark Public Radio, Inc. WBGO-FM Essex : $216,150
Ocean City Pops Orchestra/City of Ocean Cape May: $ 15,000
Princeton Pro Musica Mercer : $ 15,418
Princeton Symphony Orchestra Mercer : $47,992
Pro Arte Chorale Bergen: $12,696
Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra Bergen : $ 6,303
Riverside Symphonia Hunterdon: $29,105
Schola Cantorum on Hudson Hudson : $ 9,630
Symphony in C Camden : $140,027
The Discovery Orchestra, Inc. Somerset : $26,800
Westfield Symphony Orchestra Union : $33,592

Opera Musical Theatre
Boheme Opera Company Mercer : $ 20,329
Joseph P. Hayes Surflight Theatre Ocean : $ 109,063
Lapin Agile Prod DBA Running Rabbit Family Essex: $t 5,345
Mainstage Center for the Arts Camden : $29,239
Opera New Jersey Mercer : $66,216
Paper Mill Playhouse Essex : $757,273
Ritz Theatre Company, Inc. Camden : $61,463
The Princeton Festival A NJ Nonprofit Corp. Mercer : $ 20,000
Westfield Young Artists’ Coop. Theatre Union: $38,219