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County Tells Arts Projects’ Guidelines-$200,000 Available; For $25,000 Grants 6.7.2006

By Rick Racela

CREST HAVEN – Freeholders this week dropped the other shoe in a program they adopted in the final minutes of approving their 2006 budget, making a total of $4 million available in grants out of surplus.
The first shoe, a spiffy Brunomagli loafer, has already distributed $3.8 million to the 16 towns for “municipal public improvements.” Controversy was avoided by guaranteeing money to each town based on its percent of county taxes paid.
Shoe two, more like the Hush Puppies enjoying a revival, makes available $200,000 for “arts, history and cultural” programs. The maximum grant will be $25,000 and cash-starved organizations will be competing with one another.
There is no guarantee either of these programs will be continued next year.
Applications are due by June 30, only three weeks from now, and will be reviewed by the county’s Culture and Heritage Advisory Commission whose recommendations will go to a four-member awards committee.
It consists of Freeholders Ralph E. Bakley Sr. and Gerald Thornton, county Administrator Stephen O’Connor, and Culture and Heritage Commissioner Janice Betts.
Among criteria on which the applications will be evaluated are the program’s “projected impact upon the county” and “clarity, soundness and uniqueness.”
The applicant must have been active for at least three years, have a history of prior activities and grant management, a realistic budget, experienced and qualified key personnel, and demonstrate ability to support the program.
It also must pay its professional and support personnel “at least the minimum compensation level prevailing for persons employed in similar activities.”
If the award request is for “general operating support,” the applicant must show how the funds will be replaced in 2007.
No individuals, government agencies or schools are eligible.
Bakley, in a press release,  said “These funds can be used to strengthen ongoing programs, expand programming, institute new projects, improve artistic or historic quality, preserve or restore historic properties or documents, or a combination of all of the above.”
It was suggested that questions go to Culture and Heritage at 463-6370.
This seems to be the county’s first significant contribution to the arts since a policy initiated in 1983 to spend up to 1.5 percent of the cost of new public buildings for original works of art.
That put artwork in such places as the courthouse, the county library and the county administration building. The program seems to have been forgotten.
Contact Zelnik at (609) 886-8600 Ext. 27 or: jzelnik@cmcherald.com

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