Jersey City’s Cultural Affairs, Branding and Tourism

Jersey City has a new Mayor, Steven Fulop, and for the most part I’m happy with what he’s doing. Not only did he bring back the street cleaners, but started an initiative to get the youth involved called, “Stop the Drop!” He’s brought on more fire fighters and police including bicycle police and has some great green ideas too. He’s cutting costs by consolidating many departments.

resident response center jersey cityOne of the plans has me baffled. He’s planning to fold the Division of Cultural Affairs along with Senior Affairs and Veteran’s Affairs into the newly rebranded “Resident Response Center (RRC).” They were previously under the Department of Health and Human services. (…and why 50s style branding?)

Is it possible that the second largest city in New Jersey doesn’t get that culture and the arts are the major economic driver?

An important quote from the Hudson County Arts Master Plan, which notes how important the arts are to the Hudson County economy.

“Many economists note that while nonprofit arts and cultural organizations themselves make up a small segment of the creative economy, they are vital local-level economic engines for two reasons. First, they are much more likely than larger businesses to spend their revenues locally, buying from local vendors. Second and most important, they induce local spending on arts and entertainment. National data sets show that Hudson County household spending on arts, entertainment, and culture – including movies – far exceeds the spending of Hudson County households on sporting events. While this is undoubtedly due to the proximity of New York City and its cultural offerings, it shows that residents do attend and spend a good deal on culture. If Hudson County had more ways to capture this spending, it would be able to reap a share of a well established economic cycle.

According to the US Economic Census and Internal Revenue Service, the arts and creative industry is conservatively noted as at least a $72 million annual industry in Hudson County.”

From the Mayor’s Transition Report: “A common complaint from community members concerning this division is that it lacks connectivity with the entire art community and the constituency as a whole. Dealing with the permitting process for special events is cumbersome, confusing and time consuming. There is a lack of creativity and marketing for city sponsored events.”


However, within the report is the call for new Jersey City Branding and to build up Tourism. How are we to build up branding and tourism without supporting the arts more fully?

“Tourism is an integral part of the economy of any major city. In addition to merging the various culture and tourism endeavors noted above “under one roof,” a rebranding of these efforts is necessary. VISIT JC is an easy, familiar brand, easily spelled and understood. A logo should be developed and there should be a website overhaul, consistent social media campaigns and related print collateral materials such as targeted maps and visitor packages with a consistent message and coordination with area hotels and destinations. The City should consider holding contests concerning the branding and logo for the City.” (A contest??? Seriously now, how about all the talented creative people living in this city answer a RFP, which the city should put out!)

Also in the report was a final note saying they should consider the reactivation of its Cultural Arts Commission. Is Jersey City thinking more about the Sports events on the calendar with the Barclay’s Golf Tournament and 2014 NFL Championship Game.


It’s your turn to comment below and tell me what you think!


8 thoughts on “Jersey City’s Cultural Affairs, Branding and Tourism

  1. Christine Goodman

    As the second largest city in the state, it is important to have a Division of Cultural Affairs. The arts are a very important aspect of our city and we should be making steps to build up our arts organizations.

    You make a very good point – “How are we to build up branding and tourism without supporting the arts more fully?”

  2. Bill Benzon

    I agree, moving cultural affairs in with seniors and veterans is, well, it’s bone-headed on the face of it. And I don’t see how cultural affairs is about residence RESPONSE. That’s way too passive. Cultural Affairs needs to be megaproactive.

    As for branding, me and my friends rather like Chilltown 2.0. “Chilltown” is an already established nickname for Jersey City, albeit mostly in the hip hop community. But that’s just fine, though hip hop is perhaps getting a bit long in the tooth. And the “2.0” brings the brand into the internet-wise 21st Century, which is where Chilltown needs to be. Chilltown 2.0sounds like they know what they’re doing.

  3. Susan Post author

    Hi Bill, Thanks for your comment! Chilltown is interesting, I’ve not heard that before and will Google it to see what comes up. – Susan

  4. Helene Taylor

    I’m completely baffled why going backwards is the right call. This is going backwards, correct? Mayor Fulop please consider how integral our arts programs and community are to making this city so unique and valued to those who live here and those who visit. My friends visit from Manhattan and Brooklyn to attend such spectacular events such as JC Friday’s. Merging in to something as benign as a Resident Response Center and evidently focussing on sports is beyond old fashioned, it’s an old Mayor’s way of thinking.

  5. Susan Post author

    Hi Helene, Yes I just had to write about this because I just didn’t understand it. I’m so glad to see so many speaking up here! -Susan

  6. Pingback: Jersey City Branding 2.0 | Branding YOU Better!

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