A Conversation with Asw. Valerie Vainieri Huttle

A Conversation with Asw. Valerie Vainieri Huttle

November 6, 2014 / 5:30-7:00 p.m.


Attendees: Nina Bachrach, Nai Ni Chen, Andy Chiang, Sandy Chiappino, Allison Davis, Al Dib, Jackie Guttman, Shama Haider, Elissa Machlin-Lockwood, Joyce Luhrs, Lynn Needle, Ruth Bauer Neustadter, Janice Rollo, Jennifer Johnson Rothman

Danielle De Laurentis, Michael Shannon – NNJCF


Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle

Assemblywoman Huttle started by reading the mission of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts –
to support artists and arts organizations, expand public participation in the arts, advocate for the advancement of the arts, create high quality arts education, and integrate the arts into community and economic development plans. She said that these goals must be accomplished in Bergen County, which should be known as an arts hub. She supports ArtsBergen to help do this.

Key Points:

  • Assemblywoman Huttle listed that the arts not only build individual and community identity, but bolster economic development, bringing in 1.5 billion dollars in revenue and supporting 80,000 jobs in NJ.
  • Through her advocacy a resolution was passed that the arts would be included in the work of the Tourism and Gaming Committee (which is now named the Tourism, Gaming, and Arts Committee).
  • Because Bergen County has no representation on the NJSCA, she said she wrote a request for a legislative change that would expand NJSCA to include a representative for each county (28) in NJ.
  • She detailed legislation that is under review to raise the hotel tax for public art programs to $22 million from $16 million where it has remained static since 2003. This can help increase arts funds for Bergen County.
  • She stated that there is a need to create ways to connect all the arts organizations online casino in the County and that a collective voice (that has been started through ArtsBergen) is needed for a regional push for the arts.
  • She reported the positive movement of the arts being included in town planning, such as in the Englewood Master Plan, and Hackensack’s Main Street Redevelopment Project. She highlighted how important the arts are to revitalization and building up local downtowns.
  • She would like to see an arts advisory board at the county level like historic affairs has, which would give the arts a more prominent position at the county level.
  • She suggested we work with local mayors to inform them of the benefits of the arts as an economic engine, as well as meet online casino with the Freeholders. She said she could help ArtsBergen secure those meetings. She also said we need an arts representative at the County level.
  • She referenced arts connecting to others sectors — healthcare, education, business, tourism, etc.
  • She suggested using BergenPac for space needs.

Frank Huttle, Mayor of Englewood

Frank Huttle, the Mayor of Englewood, attended the meeting. He spearheaded the reopening of the John Harms Theatre in 2003 when the institution was endangered of closing its doors. Upon his retirement from the Board, he was honored by being named the Founder of bergenPAC. He is a strong advocate of the arts.

Key Points:

  • Mayor Huttle agreed that there needs to be a collective voice expressing passion for the arts that moves legislators to action, specifically to invest more money in the arts. The case needs to be made that arts and tourism can generate $3.00 for every $1.00 spent – that the arts are good for business.
  • He spoke about public-private partnerships, their importance and significance and that engaging the mayors is important.
  • He briefly spoke about the light rail and its extension into Bergen County and how there is a role for the arts in that development.
  • He noted that work in the arts has to connect to the master plan of a municipality.
  • He and Assemblywoman Huttle made the point of lobbying both political parties because the arts transcend party lines.

Thoughts from the Group

  • Build a website – a clearinghouse / create an online message board
  • Bergen Leads – Destination Bergen – Lynn Algrant
  • Prepare to apply to next year’s Public Art Challenge Grant offered by Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Define relationship with County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs
  • Connect with Bergen County Economic Development Corporation
  • Flat Rock Brook Nature Center and Art in Motion offered space for future meetings
  • “Speed Dating” with Nonprofits and Corporations