New Haven festival suffers big state cuts

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven’s popular International Festival of Arts and Ideas, at one time had a budget that was 50 percent state funds. Through the years, that state contribution has been slashed down to 18 percent, putting obvious pressure on event organizers.

“Clearly this kind of shift impacts our future and our ability to deliver and continue this going forward,” said Mary Lou Aleskie, who is the festivals executive director.

For the last 20 years it’s been the event to kick off the summer season. But now the state’s funding cuts are affecting cultural institutions, like the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

“We understand that the state is in trouble,” Aleskie said. “But at the same time, we’re trying to contribute economically in the way that we have in the past.”

Connecticut faces a $200 million budget deficit. So basically everything the state spends money on is under examination.

“We’re not doing this with a butcher knife,” Governor Dan Malloy said, referring to the cuts. “We’re doing it with a….as carefully as we can looking at all factors.”

Arts and Ideas generates around $120 million for the New Haven economy, according to an economic impact study done by Quinnipiac University. Crowds in the tens-of-thousands spend money on hotels, restaurants and shops in the area. Festival organizers found out Wednesday that over $30 thousand of state funding is being cut off. Money they’ve come to rely on.

Arts and Ideas is more than the events you see on the New Haven Green. They also contract with local small businesses. If the state doesn’t honor their contract with the festival, it makes it more difficult for the festival to honor their contract with small businesses.

“It’s rental companies, printing companies, banners. All those small businesses throughout Connecticut that actually rely on the festival each season,” Aleskie said.

The International Festival of Arts and Ideas kicks-off June 10.

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