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Governor James McGreevey
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For Release:
Immediate
September 7, 2001

Schundler Announces Arts Agenda for New Jersey
Pledges to increase funding for arts programming and historic preservation during his visit to Count Basie Theater in Red Bank

(Red Bank, September 7)- Republican gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler continued his bus tour through New Jersey today, stopping in the bustling downtown section of Red Bank, the hometown of legendary jazz pianist Count Basie, to announce his plan to increase state support for arts and cultural programming.

“In Jersey City, much like Red Bank, one of the keys to our success in improving the quality of life for our residents was promoting a vibrant arts and cultural scene. Art, music and other cultural venues primarily serve as food for the soul, but they also are a great way to promote business investment in struggling downtown urban centers. Red Bank used to be depressed, now it’s bustling and prosperous. Developing a thriving arts scene here was a key component in revitalizing Red Bank. We need to look for ways to replicate its success, particularly in South Jersey” Schundler said.

Schundler, after visiting with local merchants in Red Bank’s town center, stopped in front of the Count Basie Theater on Broad Street, to announce his “Agenda for the Arts,” which includes:

  • Increased funding for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts from 20 million dollars to 40 million dollars annually
  • Increased funding to the New Jersey State Historical Commission from 4.5 million dollars to 9 million dollars
  • Commitment to fulfill the State’s obligation to provide the funds necessary to the New Jersey Cultural Trust at the full 20% statutorily mandated match of private funds in excess of 100,000 dollars raised in private contributions earmarked for endowment purposes
  • Commitment to set aside 25% arts council funding to South Jersey organizations

Schundler said that his support for the arts should not surprise anyone given his nine-year record as mayor of Jersey City, which included:

  • Construction of a new, state-of-the-art, Jersey City Museum
  • Establishing the City’s first-ever Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs
  • Designation of the State’s first work and live zoning district for artists, dubbed‘WALDO’ (Work and Live District Overlay)
  • Saving Jersey City’s two most historically significant buildings, the Loews Theater and the Apple Tree House from demolition
  • Establishing an award-winning series of ethnic heritage festivals which celebrate Jersey City’s rich diversity
  • National recognition from the Nation League of Cities for including multi-racial programming into the City’s cultural programming

“Preserving and celebrating our culture is important. The State of New Jersey needs to continue to take an active role in preserving our history and celebrating our diversity. As governor, I will take a leadership role in this endeavor,” Schundler said.

Schundler also said that the continued development of a vibrant arts scene in New Jersey is key to redeveloping its urban centers:

“From the John Harms Theater in Englewood, to ‘WALDO’ and the Jersey City Museum in Jersey City, to the Performing Arts Center in Newark, and to the Count Basie Theater here in Red Bank, arts programming is refueling a renaissance in New Jersey’s urban centers. Residents are attracted to living in cities because of their vibrant culture and arts scene. If we want to revitalize New Jersey’s cities, we need to encourage and foster the growth of New Jersey’s artistic community.”

Schundler also rebuffed false claims made recently by the McGreevey campaign, which suggested that Schundler opposed public funding for the arts:

“Just look at the nine budgets I introduced as mayor of Jersey City. Every single one of them included funding for the arts and cultural programming,” Schundler said, “McGreevey’s charge is simply absurd.”

What Art Professionals Have Said About Mayor Bret Schundler

“One of the first things he did as mayor was create a Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, which for the first time put culture on the same footing as the city’s regular day to day business.”

Nina Jacobs, former Director of the Jersey City Museum.

“It helps to create a cultural district to aid the development of an inner-city neighborhood….We believe that what Mayor Schundler has done (with the Work and Live District Overlay) has been visionary.”

David Miller, Assistant Director, New Jersey State Council on the Arts

“This is the most positive climate Jersey City has had for the arts since I moved here 25 years ago…every time we’ve gone to City Hall with a problem, we’ve found support, and that’s really, really refreshing.”

Leon Yost, professional photographer, Jersey City resident

“Just the fact that in Jersey City there is already a collaboration between a nonprofit arts group and the city government is in itself a thing of great value…(WALDO) is one of the most progressive and forward looking arts plans we’ve seen anywhere.”

Chris Velasco, consultant for ArtSpace, the nationally acclaimed non-profit design firm that helps communities integrate fine art into urban planning.

Source: Newark Star-Ledger, August 30, 1998


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