The Checks Aren't In the Mail for NJ Arts Organizations

Nearly 200 arts groups in New Jersey are waiting for state money -- more than $10 million in grants -- that was awarded last summer but frozen in fiscal limbo.

Arts organizations expected to receive checks in the mail last month, but state treasury officials now say they don't know when the funds will be released. The Corzine administration is working to quickly close a $1 billion shortfall in the current year's budget by placing all "discretionary grant and state aid accounts" in reserve. That includes grant money from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Mark Packer, of ArtPride New Jersey, a statewide advocacy group for arts non-profits, says the permanent loss of these funds could force the closure of some smaller organizations. "We don’t know yet the scope or the scale, but there is little doubt that some who close their doors in the next month or two will never reopen," Packer says.

He says school arts programs in economically distressed communities may also face cuts.