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.

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

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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