By: Megan Beauchamp
This past January, a bill was introduced in the Senate New Jersey, a bill that could positively impact the makeup, and business of certain municipalities, and neighborhoods.
The legislation, which passed through the Sentate this past October 39 -0, would require the New Jersey Council on Arts to designate, “Artist Districts,” for a municiplaity or an area within one. The bill was initially referred to the State Government, Wagering, and Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee (S521). In September a companion bill (A4378) was introduced in the State Assembly, and was referred to the Tourism, Gaming, and Arts Committee.
Not only does this piece of legislation require the NJ council to desginate the areas in which would be considered “Artist Districts,” it also makes clear the criteria needed to actually be considered an artist district. Under the bill, the council can only desginate no more than 25 municipalities.
Republican state Senator, of the 21st legislative district, Thomas Kean Jr., worked as one of the primary sponsors on the bill, and expressed how it would give power to local artists. Kean is actually the Senate apointee on the NJ State Council on the Arts, and has supported other prominent legislation that would advance the Arts in New Jersey. Legislation like, resolution SR-64, that also passed in October
The resoution supports the National Endwoment for the Arts (NEA), and encourages the President and Congress to keep funding it through 2019.
Quoted in a SenateNJ article, Kean said, “Look across New Jersey,and you will see concrete examples on how the arts play an integral role in our ongoing efforts to build vibrant communities.”
He went on to note that local artists are a source of economic growth within New Jersey, and the state should find ways to help them.
Another one of the primary sponsors on the bill, is Democratic state Senator, Teresa Ruiz. Like Kean, Teresa is no stranger to supporting legislation that would further help the arts in the areas of NJ that need it. Currently, she is also a sponsor on a bill that would direct the NJ State Council on the Arts to, create a guide for “best practices” for art programs, specifically, for at risk youth. If passed, this bill would assert that the council assist any higher education, county, or municipality with help in implementing the program if asked.
The “Artist Distrcit” bill is one that could significantly boost the growth, economy, and traffic to a county. According research conducted by the ArtPride Research Foundation, the value of the arts industry generates $1.2 billion in economic activity, each year.
With this bill, municipalities can also apply to become artist districts if their criteria are in accordance with the NJ State Council on the Arts. Among the components, there has to be visible artistic venues, like performance halls, galleries, museums, theaters, or other related businesses.