It’s not often that voters get a say in how they want public funding spent, and Jersey City is a leader in giving its residents a say in what is important in their lives. The arts make an enormous difference to Jersey City. You can see it downtown and in all of its neighborhoods—on walls, in public art, in galleries, and in virtual and real-life classrooms. Jersey City has a unique opportunity to help them survive and thrive.

I urge you to support Municipal Question #1 on this year’s ballot.  It will create an Arts and Culture Trust Fund to support a variety of arts programs in Jersey City equitably and sustainably. In the end, it always comes down to what we value—safe and healthy neighborhoods, quality education for our kids, a thriving commerce and opportunity, a distinctive identity. The arts foster them all.

They are basic and essential to a quality education.  They help children learn, improve graduation rates, and build a creative workforce.  We learn now that they also improve social and emotional learning, help students form empathy, and maintain positive social relationships.

Many nonprofit arts groups employ teaching artists who have been hit hard during COVID and need support. Their livelihoods depend on contracts with schools and PTO’s working hard to meet basic educational goals, that include the arts. Yet schools cannot afford the assemblies or residencies required and cannot even consider them at this time.

The arts make communities attractive, safer, and bring both pride and commerce to them. Jersey City is nationally known for its vibrant arts community as well as its mural program beautifying the bustling city center.  During these challenging times, arts activities complement outdoor dining and help keep restaurants and businesses safely open.

Hard data back all these claims. To learn more, visit keepjerseyartsalive.org for even deeper data on jobs, economic impact, and quality education (both statewide and in Hudson County) and how the arts create them.

So, it comes down to what we value, what makes us whole and healthy. That is what the arts do best.  Vote YES on Municipal Question #1. Future generations of Jersey City residents will thank you for your foresight and for action at this critical moment in the continued resurgence of Jersey City.

Ann Marie Miller

Ann Marie Miller is Director of Public Policy for ArtPride New Jersey, the statewide arts advocacy organization that advances and promotes the role of art in our quality of life.

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