President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts wouldn’t just hurt theaters and museums in New Jersey. It could also mean fewer dollars to the bars, coffee shops and restaurants around them, critics said this week.

In addition to the NEA, Trump’s proposal also would wipe out the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The annual savings of $740 million would be a fraction of the proposed $4 trillion budget.

NEA spending in New Jersey — amounting to $28.1 million since 1998, the earliest year for which data was available — is also a sliver of what the state and institutions here spend on the arts. Scroll down to the end of the story to see the full list.

And while the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, which funds hundreds of local artists and organizations, gets an annual NEA grant of about $800,000, that is nowhere near the $16 million that the council gets from its share of the hotel/motel occupancy fee.

But still, some fear the loss of government grants at a time when endowments and corporate donors are spending less on the arts in favor of other causes. They also say it's shortsighted — eliminating a government expense that pays tremendous dividends in job creation and economic development.

Timothy Shields, the managing director of the McCarter Theater in Princeton, says it's no sure bet that private donors will write checks to make up the difference in lost NEA grants.

This year the theater got $35,000 from the NEA to support its Lab, which awards commissions to playwrights and helps develop new plays. Since 1998, the NEA has awarded the theater more than $680,000, which Shields says “doesn’t amount to very much in the grand scheme of things.”

“On the other hand, it means so much to these groups who rely on the funding. They are more and more dependent on it and there is less of it to go around.”

NEA grants to New Jersey have gone to universities, museums, theaters and schools to fund exhibitions, performances, public concerts and to bring the arts to underserved populations.

Among recent recipients:

The Matheny School in Peapack-Gladstone got $10,000 to showcase art created by people with disabilities.

WBGO, the only jazz station in North Jersey and New York City, got $70,000 to help produce the weekly “Jazz Night in America” series featuring live performances and interviews with musicians.

— $45,000 went to support the Montclair Jazz Festival, featuring international artists and aspiring musicians from the Montclair-based Jazz House Kids, an organization that provides music education to hundreds of students.

Jewish Community Center on the Palisades got $40,000 for the Thurnauer School of Music and its instruction of public school children in Englewood.

Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn got $40,000 to put on autism-friendly performances and drama classes for students with disabilities.

Two River Theater Company in Red Bank got $20,000 to help finance the production of a play by actress and playwright Regina Taylor.

Arts Council of Princeton got $30,000 to commission a public sculpture for the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood of Princeton.

For the conservative Heritage Foundation, which has been advocating for the elimination of the NEA for decades, these are just examples of the “politically correct art" and "welfare for the corporate elitists" that underscore why they believe the NEA is wasteful spending.

Laura Petrovich-Cheney, a 49-year-old Asbury Park resident who left her elementary teaching job about five years ago to pursue a career as an artist, says preserving "our cultural identity and our creative voice" is a worthy government expense.

Petrovich-Cheney this year received an $8,600 New Jersey State Council on the Arts fellowship, which has allowed her to exhibit her artwork — created from wood salvaged from Superstorm Sandy detritus — in Boston, Nebraska and Kentucky.

“I am bringing the story of Hurricane Sandy and identity of New Jersey and the Jersey Shore to other states. This is communicating the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy to other communities," she said Friday.

“Art becomes part of this communication that we do as human beings and it enhances our humanity.”

It can also enhance the bottom line.

State budget documents estimate that the annual $16 million in arts grants helped leverage $375 million in local economic impact by creating 21,000 jobs and helping to fund 37,000 events that drew more than 6.5 million visitors, who in turn spent another $125 million last year.

The State Council on the Arts, which is part of the state Department of State headed by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, also estimates that New Jersey is home to 20,100 arts-related businesses employing 75,454 people.

"Again, I don’t understand why they don’t give the Arts Council more money," former Gov. Tom Kean says in a promotional video the council produced for its 50th anniversary. "Because it's money you're investing. You put dollars into the arts and it spreads, it grows. The arts, you get more back."

Shields says the arts help urban communities like Red Bank, New Brunswick and Newark attract visitors, who help "fill the municipal coffers" by spending money on parking and dining at restaurants that pay property taxes.

“It’s an investment in the economy and it’s an investment in the culture.”

National Endowment for the Arts grants to NJ

Total amount that every New Jersey organization received from the NEA since 1998.

Organization 1998-2017 City
New Jersey State Council on the Arts $15,357,400 Trenton
Newark Public Radio, Inc. $1,189,843 Newark
Rutgers $699,914 New Brunswick
McCarter Theater Company $680,500 Princeton
Newark Museum Association $587,500 Newark
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra $490,000 Newark
Montclair State University $450,000 Upper Montclair
Montclair Art Museum $437,500 Montclair
International Sculpture Center, Inc. $429,800 Hamilton
Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Inc. $347,300 Millville
Paper Mill Playhouse $295,000 Millburn
Gotham Arts Exchange, Inc. $235,000 Weehawken
Rutgers-Camden $226,429 Camden
Thomas A. Edison Media Arts Consortium $225,000 Jersey City
New Jersey Performing Arts Center Corporation $210,000 Newark
Young Audiences of New Jersey Inc. $198,000 Princeton
American Boychoir School $187,500 Princeton
Auricle Communications $160,000 Jersey City
Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center Inc. $155,000 Camden
Ironbound Community Corporation $150,000 Newark
Newark Arts Council $150,000 Newark
Jewish Community Center on the Palisades $148,000 Tenafly
Music For All Seasons, Inc. $142,000 Scotch Plains
Jazz House Kids, Inc. $140,000 Montclair
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, Inc. $130,000 Fort Lee
Westfield Young Artists' Cooperative Theatre, Inc. $130,000 Westfield
Crossroads, Inc. $120,896 New Brunswick
Arts Horizons Inc. $119,000 Englewood
Jersey City Museum, Inc. $114,625 Jersey City
Aljira, Inc. $110,500 Newark
Trustees of Princeton University $105,000 Princeton
George Street Playhouse, Inc. $104,100 New Brunswick
Passage Theatre Company, Inc. $101,000 Trenton
New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority $100,000 East Rutherford
New Jersey Community Development Corporation $100,000 Paterson
People and Stories Gente y Cuentos Inc. $95,000 Lawrenceville
Peters Valley Craft Center, Inc. $95,000 Layton
Union County Arts Center Inc. $95,000 Rahway
Alliance for Arts Education/New Jersey $90,000 Trenton
City of Perth Amboy, New Jersey $81,676 Perth Amboy
Two River Theater Company $80,000 Red Bank
Fairleigh Dickinson University $75,000 Teaneck
City of Trenton, New Jersey $75,000 Trenton
New Jersey State Museum Foundation $75,000 Trenton
Kean University $74,650 Union
National Poetry Series, Inc. $71,500 Princeton
Visual Arts Center of New Jersey $70,000 Summit
Princeton Festival A NJ Non-Profit Corporation $62,500 Princeton
Morris Museum, Inc. $60,000 Morristown
Institute for Arts and Humanities Education $60,000 New Brunswick
Princeton Ballet Society $60,000 New Brunswick
Center for Modern Dance Education $55,000 Hackensack
Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Inc. $55,000 Madison
Cooper's Ferry Partnership $50,000 Camden City
Perkins Center for the Arts $50,000 Moorestown
Communities In Schools of New Jersey, Inc. $50,000 Newark
ValleyArts, Inc. $50,000 Orange
PlanSmart NJ $50,000 Trenton
Barnegat Bay Decoy and Baymen's Museum, Inc. $50,000 Tuckerton
Flemington Jewish Community Center $49,150 Flemington
Chambers, Veronica V. $45,000 Hoboken
Friends of Teen Arts, Inc. $45,000 Lambertville
Opera New Jersey, Inc. $44,375 Princeton
Matheny School and Hospital, Inc. $43,656 Peapack
Burlington County College $40,000 Pemberton
Arts Council of Princeton $40,000 Princeton
Monmouth County Arts Council, Inc. $40,000 Red Bank
William Paterson College of New Jersey $40,000 Wayne
John Harms Concerts, Inc. $35,000 Englewood
Newark Community School of the Arts $35,000 Newark
Princeton Symphony Orchestra $35,000 Princeton
Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting $35,000 Trenton
Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company $35,000 Union
New Jersey Institute of Technology $33,000 Newark
Grounds For Sculpture Inc $30,000 Hamilton
Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee $30,000 Newark
Passaic County Community College $30,000 Paterson
ArtPRIDE New Jersey Foundation $28,000 Burlington
Lock, Norman G. $25,000 Aberdeen
Yuri, Michael $25,000 Bloomfield
Doty, Catherine $25,000 Boonton
Rathgeber, Joseph $25,000 Clifton
Hampton, Locksley $25,000 East Orange
Van Gelder, Rudolph $25,000 Englewood Cliffs
CavanKerry Press, Ltd. $25,000 Fort Lee
Rafferty, Michael F. $25,000 Hasbrouck Hts
Mojaddedi, Jawid $25,000 Hoboken
DeSilva, Patricia A. $25,000 Howell
Jones, Tayari $25,000 Jersey City
Morgenstern, Dan $25,000 Jersey City
Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences $25,000 Loveladies
African Grove Institute for the Arts $25,000 Newark
D'Rivera, Paquito $25,000 North Bergen
Barretto, Ray $25,000 Norwood
Jarrett, Keith $25,000 Oxford
Bargowski, John $25,000 Phillipsburg
Richardson, Jr., James E. $25,000 Princeton
Rowland, Amy $25,000 Princeton
Graber, Kathleen $25,000 Wildwood
Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, Inc. $21,500 Madison
Union County College Foundation $20,000 Cranford
Appel Farm Arts and Music Center $20,000 Elmer
International Institute of New Jersey $20,000 Jersey City
Rider University $20,000 Lawrenceville
Hoch, James $20,000 Mahwah
Arts Council of the Morris Area $20,000 Morristown
College of Saint Elizabeth $20,000 Morristown
Reiter, Thomas $20,000 Neptune
Parras, John $20,000 New Milford
Northwest Jersey Folklife Project, Inc. $20,000 Phillipsburg
Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra, Inc. $20,000 Ridgewood
Byrd, Donald $20,000 Teaneck
Park Theatre Performing Arts, Inc. $20,000 Union City
Gehrke, Steven $20,000 Upper Mont Clair
New Jersey Festival Orchestra $20,000 Westfield
Rutgers-Newark $19,986 Newark
New Brunswick Cultural Center, Inc. $18,000 New Brunswick
Danmari Ltd. $17,000 Montclair
Bayshore Discovery Project, Inc. $15,000 Port Norris
Count Basie Theatre, Inc. $14,871 Red Bank
Schneider, Jacob D. $12,500 Chatham
Symphony in C $12,500 Collingswood
Carrington, Enriqueta R. $12,500 Highland Park
Mary Lou Williams Foundation, Inc. $12,500 Jersey City
New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Inc. $12,000 Madison
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts $10,000 Berkeley Heights
Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts $10,000 Cape May
Institute of Music for Children, Inc. $10,000 Elizabeth
Rowan University $10,000 Glassboro
New Jersey Repertory Company $10,000 Long Branch
Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc. $10,000 Mahwah
Millville Development Corporation $10,000 Millville
Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts, Inc. $10,000 Montclair
Foundations, Inc. $10,000 Moorestown
coLAB Arts, Inc. $10,000 New Brunswick
Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission $10,000 New Brunswick
Community Agencies Corporation of New Jersey $10,000 Newark
Sussex County Community College $10,000 Newton
Passaic County Community College Foundation $10,000 Paterson
Weigel, Marie $10,000 Pennington
Sorochaniuk, Eudokia $10,000 Pennsauken
Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission $10,000 Salem
South Orange Performing Arts Center $10,000 South Orange
Dance-New Jersey, Inc. $10,000 South Plainfield
Garden State Philharmonic Symphony Society $10,000 Toms River
Trenton Downtown Association, Inc. $10,000 Trenton
Theater Project, a NJ Nonprofit $10,000 Union
Stevens Institute of Technology $9,627 Hoboken
Opera Festival of New Jersey $7,500 Princeton
Ramapo College of New Jersey $6,100 Mahwah
Colonial Symphony $5,000 Basking Ridge
Communities of Faith for Housing $5,000 Hoboken

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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