To the Editor:

What is happening to the arts in Trumbull?

There is a disturbing trend in the First Selectman’s proposed 2015-2016 Trumbull Town Budget, made public last week. While rearranging departments in the name of efficiencies is a good idea, he has effectively eliminated funding for the arts while preserving recreational sports funding. He is also advocating the School Board eliminate pay-to-play participation fees for sports, ignoring the participation fees for the drama program.

This budget proposal shifts the Arts Coordinator, expenses for the Arts Commission, and the Trumbull Youth Association from the First Selectman’s budget to the Recreation budget. Unfortunately, he has not allocated any funds to support these programs. Instead, he has indicated the Arts Coordinator’s salary will be funded out of an unseen Recreation Revenue account, without any specified budget. He has completely removed town funding for the Trumbull Youth Association citing his desire for it to be “self-sustaining”. But it is clear he really wants it to be “self-funding” and run only on the revenue it can raise, effectively ending the program as it now exists. No other town youth program is required to be self-funding.

The Trumbull Youth Association program has been in existence for 45 years and has offered thousands of children the opportunity to participate in theater and numerous other programs. It offers safe activities for teens not only during the summer musicals, but also has programs all year round. It’s not just about theatre. Programs like the Fifth Grade Meet and Greet, which helps students transition from elementary to middle school, town movie nights and food drives for the Trumbull Food Pantry help teens build a strong sense of community. It fosters a lifelong love of the arts and builds skills in human interaction that extends far beyond their teen years. Why would we defund such a program?

Please contact members of the Trumbull Board of Finance and the Town Council to voice your concerns. There is a Board of Finance-Budget Public Hearing, 10 a.m., Madison Middle School on February 28th. Please attend and speak in support of the arts in Trumbull.

Cathy and Rick Bolton