Trenton, NJ - The financial outlook for the New Jersey Cultural Trust is the strongest it has been in over a decade, Board members and staff said November 15, 2023, at the Cultural Trust’s Annual Meeting in Trenton.
In Fiscal Year 2024, the Cultural Trust received a $2,189,000 appropriation — its largest since Fiscal Year 2003. This historic investment reflects the commitment of the Murphy Administration and the Legislature to arts and culture as an essential industry in New Jersey, and their recognition of the important role the Cultural Trust plays in maintaining the long-term stability and vitality of that industry.
“Arts and culture are key to our quality of life, and the Cultural Trust strengthens our state’s arts and culture infrastructure,” said Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way, who oversees the Cultural Trust in her capacity as Secretary of State. “New Jersey is fortunate to have the Cultural Trust’s unique grant programs, which provide crucial behind-the-scenes support through long-term investments like cash reserves, strategic plans, and technology upgrades. These grants ensure that our cherished cultural organizations continue to survive and thrive for many years to come.”
The Fiscal Year 2024 appropriation empowered the Cultural Trust Board to vote at the Annual Meeting to fulfill all existing obligations to New Jersey cultural nonprofits that are owed matching payments to their endowments through the Cultural Trust’s Certified Donation program. In addition to these payments, the appropriation will result in the largest addition to the principal of the Cultural Trust’s permanent investment fund in two decades.
Additionally, strong interest rates and diligent stewardship of the Trust’s permanent fund by the Board and the New Jersey Division of Investment yielded interest earnings of $791,800 in Fiscal Year 2023, Cultural Trust Executive Director Izzy Kasdin shared at the Annual Meeting. This amount is triple the previous year’s interest income and represents the most interest earned in a single fiscal year since 2010.
This growth directly affects the Cultural Trust’s grant programs, which are funded by the Trust’s interest income.
“The Cultural Trust’s grant programs fund many important projects that aren’t eligible for funding through other state agencies,” Cultural Trust Board Chair Bette Daniele said. “It’s thrilling to see our interest income grow, because that means our grantmaking capacity is growing as well — and more capacity means we can do even more to meet the critical stabilization needs of New Jersey’s arts, history, and humanities organizations.”
Also at the Annual Meeting, the Cultural Trust Board re-elected officers for a one-year term of service: Bette Daniele as Chairperson; Carol Cronheim as First Vice Chairperson; John Paul Nicolaides as Vice Chairperson for Finance; and Jill Morton as Secretary.
Executive Director Izzy Kasdin reported on the achievements of the previous year, which included over $540,000 in grants awarded to 16 arts organizations. “The growth of our team and the reinstatement of our administrative budget have also allowed us to make incredible strides,” she said. “The Cultural Trust’s staff is working to increase our outreach and broaden access to our grants, improve our grant workflows and expand technical assistance, collaborate effectively with our partner agencies, and proactively engage with and support the needs of the cultural sector.”
The Board also voted to designate two nonprofit cultural organizations as “qualified,” making them eligible to participate in the Cultural Trust’s grant programs; created a Public Value Committee to coordinate the Cultural Trust’s public outreach, messaging, and communications strategy; recommended Treasury bond investments; and authorized the Cultural Trust’s Fiscal Year 2025 grant round, for which the New Jersey State Council on the Arts will serve as the recommending agency.
The New Jersey Cultural Trust, a division of the New Jersey Department of State, was created in July 2000 as a public/private partnership to help ensure a stable and healthy nonprofit cultural industry in New Jersey that is sustainable even in the toughest of economic times. The Trust provides grants to support capital projects, endowments and institutional and financial stabilization of arts, history and humanities organizations in New Jersey. Funding for the grants comes from interest earned on the Cultural Trust Fund, which is a permanent investment fund. To learn more about the Trust, please visit our website at nj.gov/state/culturaltrust.