The Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund announced April 28 the granting of $1 million to 88 local artists and arts organizations that the city says “expand the impact and inclusiveness of the arts in Jersey City, build community connections through art, and develop creative and economic opportunities for artists.”

Funded by a property tax levy passed in 2020, this is the second year the grants will have been given out. Of the awards, 68 are for arts programs and organizations, with an average award of over $14,000. The remaining 20 fellowship grants will provide individual artists with $5,000 each.

“We are still the first and only municipality in New Jersey to administer an arts and culture trust fund, and I hope other municipalities will follow suit as they witness the short- and longterm benefits Jersey City experiences as a result of our investments in the arts,” said Mayor Steven Fulop.

The grants support a wide range of projects from theater and music performances to visual arts exhibitions and arts education classes. Awardees include household brands such as Art Fair 14C, Liberty Science Center, and Art House Productions, as well as individuals and organizations with less name recognition, such as Surati for Performing Arts (a dance programming company), Benedicto Figuero (who organizes poetry slams), and Deliverance Children’s Ministries. The diversity of funding can be seen by perusing the list of 2023 grantees, which includes Whole Spectrum Autism, Richard Kiamco and the Laugh Tour, the Japanese Cultural League of Jersey City, Church World Service Refugee Arts Collective, North River Sing Community Chorus.

“We are exceptionally proud to announce our 2023 JCACTF grantees. This year's grantees spotlight the diversity that makes Jersey City the uniquely special place that it is, “said Elizabeth Phillips-Lorenzo, Co-chair of the Arts & Culture Trust Fund Committee.

An independent review panel of arts professionals evaluated each grant application. The panel then made their recommendations to the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund Committee. Applications were evaluated based on criteria including the number of residents the applicant’s program serves and the socioeconomic makeup of the group’s impact. Programs reaching diverse audiences looked on highly favorably.

Last year the Trust Fund allocated $850,000. Said Bryan Beninghove, executive director of Riverview Jazz, which received funding in both 2022 and 2023, “We run free events for the community all year, but it is often a struggle for us to continuously work year-round to maximize the community benefit. … This fund gives us the ability and flexibility to produce more events of quality for our great City. The JC Arts Trust Fund is a game changer!”

Photo by Grace Liu Anderson

Deputy Editor Elizabeth Morrill has worked in business, not for profit fundraising and as a freelance copy editor. She holds degrees in American studies and education from Yale and Harvard.