Monday, December 19, 2011

Connecticut Ballet Presents THE NUTCRACKER

Connecticut Ballet presents its blockbuster annual production of ‘The Nutcracker’ at the Palace Theatre, Stamford Center for the Arts. Starring American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Julie Kent, David Hallberg, Gillian Murphy and Jose Manuel Carreno and hailed by ‘Connecticut Post’ as “beguiling and a treat for the eyes,” this production will light up your family’s holiday season. Tickets are priced $25-$50 plus a $5.00 per ticket theater surcharge. Please call 203-325-4466 to order in person or online at

Dec. 23 at 7:30pm
Stamford Center For The Arts
The Palace Theatre
61 Atlantic Street
Stamford, CT 06901

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Trustee Network Forum Raises Awareness About Congress’ Proposed Cap on Charitable Donations

Elisabeth Morten, President of the Board of Directors, Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County introduces speakers, Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy, League of American Orchestras and Doug White, Academic Director fo the George H. Heyman, Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at New York University.
 Last night, the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County sposored the second annual Trustee Network Forum at the Fairfield Theatre Company. Focusing on Congress’s proposed cap on charitable deductions, they discussed what that could mean for you, your organization, and your  community. Following the discussion, a reception was held at the Fairfield Arts Center. This event had a great turnout, and helped to raise awareness of the impending congressional supercommittee meeting on Nov 23, during which they will discuss reducing the incentives for charitable donations. The following is information provided by Americans for the Arts, giving an extensive background on the issue at hand.

Congressman Jim Himes, Elisabeth Morten, President of the Board of Directors, Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County and James Naughton

BACKGROUND For three consecutive years, the Obama Administration has proposed capping the value of charitable deductions to 28 percent for those taxpayers who itemize. Currently, the value of the deduction is tied to the marginal income tax rate the donor pays; 35% for the highest earning families. The administration has used this proposal to help close revenue gaps for everything from the newly enacted health care law to federal deficit reduction. Each time, Congress has passed on seriously considering the cap.
The nonprofit community has remained vigilant in opposition to itemized deduction changes. Most analysis, including a recent Congressional Budget Office study, show charitable giving would drop if the tax incentive’s value were to be reduced. Urban Institute research shows that charitable giving to the arts would be among the most affected by this kind of tax change. To that end, Americans for the Arts has been working closely with nonprofit sector advocacy groups like Independent Sector, recently signing a letter addressed to Congress and the Administration that was published in POLITICO, urging that the charitable deduction be taken off the table as a possible revenue raiser.

Ann Sheffer, State Senator John McKinney and Ryan Odinak, Executive Director of the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County
SENATE FINANCE HEARING ON CHARITABLE DEDUCTION The U.S. Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on October 18, 2011 on possible reforms to the Charitable Deduction in response to the Obama Administration’s persistent call to propose limiting the value of itemized deductions. The administration’s latest attempt to cap the deduction was to raise revenues for the American Jobs Act which seeks to provide small business tax breaks, hiring incentives and infrastructure investment in an effort to spur sagging employment. The cap was recently removed from the jobs bill in large part due to the lack of support in using it as a “pay-for.”

The Senate Finance committee took the opportunity to nearly unanimously reject the president’s plan to limit the charitable deduction. In their opening statements, Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) both praised nonprofit charities and their missions especially as they are a critical lifeline for goods and services during these hard economic times. Senator Hatch went even further in defense of charitable incentives in his statement saying “As state and local governments grapple with budget deficits and revenue shortfalls, Americans in crisis are turning for help in ever greater numbers
to churches, charities, shelters, and other social welfare groups. Charitable donations are the lifeblood of charities and the last thing Congress should do is interrupt the blood supply.”
Testimony at the hearing consisted of various organizations such as the United Way and Church of Latter Day Saints along with the Congressional Budget Office and Urban Institute. The panelists had varying opinions on how best to preserve and administer the charitable deduction. Some were in favor of major reforms while most believed that it needed little amending and is the model for charitable giving around the world. Even the most critical voices expressed with some certainty that the proposed cap would impact giving negatively, but as to how much was disputed.

What became abundantly clear is that the panel and the senators almost unanimously agreed about the social value and worth of the arts and their importance in shaping, building and preserving communities. Often the arts have been maligned as patronage and not sometimes worthy of the same treatment under the tax code as direct social services provided by such organizations as the Catholic Charities and the United Way. In fact, United Way President and CEO Brian Gallagher directly refuted this misperception by praising the arts as “a huge part of community development – as part of the common good; I have seen the crossover between the arts and human services. We should not parse between the different nonprofits.” Ranking Member Hatch said resolutely, “Congress has wisely chosen not to prefer one charity over another” when talking about the charitable deduction. Senator Hatch added that he hears criticism of charitable contributions to the arts but cited the importance of helping the sick and the underprivileged through use of the arts, demonstrating their public good. He himself came from an underprivileged background and acknowledged how the arts had aided his development.
Elder Dallin Oaks of the Church of Latter Day Saints sternly warned against government making the decision of what is a charity and commenting that it should be left to the “marketplace of donations.”

It has become evident that the charitable deduction enjoys broad, popular and bipartisan support. Any attempt to devalue the deduction, to this point, has been met with extreme prejudice by the majority of Congress. The larger question becomes how the deduction fits into the entire tax reform effort that has become a prominent ancillary of recent deficit reduction negotiations. It is clear tinkering with it to pay for other programming is highly controversial. But with momentum building for sweeping, comprehensive reform of the tax code, the charitable deduction will be part of a larger conversation to find more government revenue to address the national debt while still preserving the traditional role and treatment of nonprofit charities.

Questions? Please contact Americans for the Arts Associate Director of Federal Affairs Gladstone Payton at
Senate hearing materials online

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer Jam Live @ Stepping Stones

This summer get ready to rock under the Stepping Stones Museum for Children's Celebration Courtyard Tent! 

Four fabulous rocking Wednesday nights to benefit Stepping Stones youth enrichment initiatives. Featuring the hottest, up-and-coming teen-aged musicians in the industry.
Parents and chaperones Be there without being there! Join the party outside or relax in our exclusive lounge created just for you!
July 13  /  August 3  /  August 10  /  August 17


One concert left – Don't miss out!

Battle of the Bands

Wednesday, August 17

Doors open: 6:00 pm      Concert starts: 7:00 pm

Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door

Monday, May 23, 2011

Art About Town

ART ABOUT TOWN will bring original artists’ works to 55 store and restaurant windows, turning the Westport shopping district into one continuous gallery for strolling, appreciating and purchasing quality art.  Original, undiscovered and obtainable are the keys to ART ABOUT TOWN. All works will be juried by local art experts and professionals, and will be for sale to the public.  Award-winning student works will also be on display.
ART ABOUT TOWN begins with a festive Opening Night Street Fest on Thursday May 26th from 5:30-8:00 pm. That night, Main Street will be closed to vehicular traffic and the length of Main – and beyond – will be filled with entertainment and refreshments. Street performers will delight, music will fill the air, and visitors will be able to see artists in action as they demonstrate their talent in open air “studios.” Participating businesses will stay open late and have some surprises in store as well. The exhibit will remain in stores through Sunday June 26th.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Welcome to FCBuzz

Welcome to our new blog, FCBuzz.  This blog is brought to you by the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County, an organization that advocates for arts and cultural organizations and artists by promoting participation in arts and cultural activities.  The Cultural Alliance manages a website called, you guessed it, – a cultural calendar that is worth checking out if you want to know all that is going on throughout Fairfield County.  It is a great site to bookmark and revisit when you are looking for something fun to do.
Each week we will blog here about some of the many events posted on in the hopes that you will be inspired to go visit a few of them yourself.  We are lucky to live in such a culturally rich area, and we can’t wait to share what is going on around us.  We’re looking forward to having our readers post what they’ve experienced at these events too!  Together we’ll create an arts & culture blog for Fairfield County that showcases the best of the region.