News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director Ÿ Doug Singleterry, Commissioner Deputy Director

Sara Sooy, Commissioner Ÿ Melonie Marano, Commissioner Ÿ Paul Drake, Commissioner



April 10, 2023

Somerset County Awards Grants Totaling $200K to 15 Arts Organizations



SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Board of County Commissioners awarded grants to 15 organizations after receiving funds through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Local Arts Program (LAP). The grants assist organizations with general operating support and special projects. It is an evolving field that serves the community’s interests by promoting arts, culture, and creativity.

Grant money totaling $200,000 was awarded and approved by the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission and the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners.

“Communities that integrate the arts into their public spaces and plans enjoy improved wellbeing on so many levels,” said County Commissioner Melonie Marano, liaison to the Cultural & Heritage Commission. “In Somerset County, our creativity continues to draw visitors and inspire residents.  We appreciate the work of our nonprofit organizations and municipalities and are delighted to support them with this state funding.”

“We are fortunate in Somerset County to have numerous nonprofit organizations and municipalities that are dedicated to the arts,” said Rory Britt, the President of the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission. “I encourage the public to patronize these organizations and enjoy those events made possible through our LAP grants.”

The following Somerset County organizations received LAP grants:

Adult Day Center of Somerset County, Bridgewater – $4,000
Special project funds will support “The Art of Care” program, which will result in an exhibition to be held during September 2023.

American Theatre Group, Bernards – $35,000
Funding will support the 2023 season of artistic productions, the professional development program for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and Queer-identifying playwrights, and an arts education program for students and recent graduates.

Bound Brook Cultural Arts Committee, Bound Brook – $3,000
Special project funding will help expand the types of music and dance performances at Riverfest 2023, an annual free event featuring high quality artistic performances.

Downtown Somerville Alliance, Somerville – $34,000
Creative placemaking funding will assist in the development and installation of a statue of Paul Robeson on Division Street in Somerville.

Friends of the Abraham Staats House, South Bound Brook – $1,000
Special project funding will be used to facilitate two new programs. The first is a dramatic one-man retelling of the Middlebrook Cantonment, and the second features virtuoso recorder and harpsicord performances of 17th and 18th century music.

Friends of the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead, Bernards- $22,700
General operating support funding will be used to increase staff capacity as well as update the organization’s strategic and disaster plans.

Light Opera of New Jersey, Inc., Bernards – $10,000
Funding will support a fully staged light opera production as well as expand outreach opportunities in Somerset County.

Raag-Rang, Bridgewater – $10,000

Funding will support the organization’s 2023 programing, including concerts, lectures, and Kal-Ke-Kalakar (Artists of the Future).

Raritan Valley Choral Society, Hillsborough – $3,300

General operating support funding will be used to support 2023 performances and updates to the organization’s website.

RVCC Arts & Design Department, Branchburg – $4,000

Special project funding will be used to acquire distinguished musicians to perform at the 2023 RVCC Mozaika Concert Series.

Raritan Valley Symphonic Band, Hillsborough – $5,000

General operating support funding will help the organization expand marketing efforts and hire a guest musician to hold a masterclass, as well as to be a featured performer at one concert.

Somerset Symphony Orchestra, Branchburg – $10,000

Funding will support three masterwork concerts and the reinstatement of their On-The-Go Chamber Music arts outreach program.

Somerset Valley Players, Hillsborough – $20,000

Grant funding will aid with 2023 production costs, facilitation of an acting workshop for young actors, and marketing to increase community outreach.

Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, Montgomery – $18,000

Special project funding will be used to commission the creation and publication of a youth historical fiction book titled Truehart Sourland Journals.

Ukrainian History & Education Center, Franklin – $20,000

General operating support funding will support staff capacity while providing hands-on folk-art programming and youth arts programming.

About the Local Arts Program Grant

The Local Arts Program Grant enables the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) to support local arts development within each of New Jersey’s 21 counties through a competitive grant application process by awarding funds to the designated county arts agencies (CAAs). Though a small percentage of the annual total grant award supports local arts development through planned programming and other services provided by the Cultural & Heritage office, the greater percentage of the grant award (generally 75% ) is set aside for re-grants, through a formal application/independent peer review panel process to support eligible local arts organizations and other non-profit organizations within Somerset County that provide public art projects/programs, services and development. Grant awards are competitive and seek to encourage artistic excellence at the local level.

The Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission (SCC&HC) is the official agency designated in the county to apply for, receive and administer the Local Arts Program Grant. The grant applications are approved through an independent panel of peers who evaluate and provide recommendations for the allocation of funding. Recommendations are submitted to the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission for approval and are approved by the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners.

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