Gov. John G. Rowland (R-CT)
When Governor Rowland took office in 1995, his message was loud and clear: Connecticut's new governor doubled the State Commission on the Arts' budget. It was a matter of dollars and common sense, he said - with an economic impact of $1.3 billion and support of 30,000 jobs, the nonprofit arts sector deserved a larger public investment. Governor Rowland's extraordinary commitment over the past five years has catapulted Connecticut from the bottom 10% in per capita state arts support to #1 in the continental United States. Today, the State arts appropriation exceeds $13.5 million.
In addition to increasing program funds for the arts, Governor Rowland has authorized more than $54 million in capital fund investments in the state's arts infrastructure. Projects are underway today in communities across the state, ranging from the restoration of long dormant, historic theaters, to the transformation of old factory buildings into arts centers and housing for artists, to the construction of major new performing arts venues. The Governor has also made a commitment to increase the Connecticut Arts Endowment Fund by $1 million annually. The Fund, which helps stabilize Connecticut's art industry by rewarding organizations that demonstrate an increased ability to raise funds from the private sector, stands at $14 million, with a goal of $20 million. Furthermore, the State's Art-in-Public Spaces program has a current authorization of more than $6 million for public art projects.
"When we talk about the quality of life here in Connecticut, the role of the arts cannot be underestimated," says the Governor. And in the spirit of making life better for the citizens of his state, Governor Rowland is investing more than $2 billion to rebuild Connecticut's state education system, pre-school through college. He has taken a special interest in Commission of the Arts' network of arts-centered schools, called HOT (Higher Order Thinking) Schools, and has doubled the funding to expand that network throughout urban, suburban and rural school districts. The Governor has raised visibility for arts education, participating in public broadcasting specials to share his belief that all children deserve a quality arts education and that such an education can change lives. In 1999, he received an International Reading Association award for his support of arts-based literacy development. Most recently, Governor Rowland declared 2000-2009 to be Connecticut's Decade of Arts Education.
Governor Rowland began his political career in the Connecticut State Legislature in 1980, before becoming a member of the U.S. House of Representatives at age 27. The youngest governor in America today, he has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the nation's top ten emerging government leaders. Together, he and his wife Patricia have five children.