I am a resident of Hoboken. I am an artist, art teacher, and president of hob’art cooperative gallery (Hoboken’s only nonprofit artists’ cooperative.) I am writing to commend our Mayor Ravi Bhalla for his newest executive order.
The executive order requires that all future bond ordinances in Hoboken include an additional 1 percent. These funds will go directly into a Hoboken arts trust fund. For example, when Hoboken bonds for road construction or to purchase a park, however much those items cost, an additional 1 percent specifically allocated for the arts will be added to the bond ordinance.
Last year, Hoboken bonded for approximately $20 million. Had this executive order been in effect last year, the city could have potentially generated $200,000 for the trust fund.
This is, as the mayor himself said, a “game changer” for the arts in Hoboken. In the 40 years that I have lived in the beautiful city of Hoboken, our municipal government has never funded the arts. It is ironic because we artists who came here 40 and more years ago bought decaying properties, renovated them and began the process of making Hoboken one of the most desirable and lovely communities in which to live.
As with most cities, we pioneering artists have been finding it more and more difficult to pay for the rising costs of housing and work space in our gentrifying community. Young and old artists, musicians, dancers and performers have been leaving Hoboken in large numbers. This new order from Mayor Bhalla may enable the city to create cultural events and venues that make it possible for the artists, musicians and performers to move back.
I am grateful that the mayor understands the NEA statement “Art Works” because when creative thinkers live in a community business grows, economies become strong, and the quality of life of all citizens improves. Art districts attract a myriad of small businesses from restaurants to theaters. Small business generates income. Income generates revenue to fund parks, exhibition halls, dance and theater spaces, and concert halls. The economic wheel can then keep turning to make everyone’s lives better.
Thank you, Mayor Bhalla!
Elizabeth Cohen Ndoye