The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County celebrated its five-year anniversary supporting arts and culture in the region.

In July, the board of directors and staff, with state Sen. Bob Duff, D-25, gathered to applaud the increasing impact, influence and recognition the alliance has garnered while serving the cultural organizations, artists and creative businesses that contribute to the creative and economic vitality of the region.

Along with the organization's achievements, the State Legislature approved a new line item for the alliance in the state budget.

The alliance provides its more than 250 members with unified marketing opportunities, professional and organizational development programs and advocacy. The alliance was created from the One-Coast, One-Future regional initiative in 2005. A steering committee was created, comprised of Fairfield County business, cultural, and civic leaders who oversaw a regional cultural assessment. The end result was the formation of the alliance in July 2008, and later, the creation of -- an online event and calendar for all that is happening in Fairfield County's arts and cultural realm. At any one time, is promoting more than 400 events.

A recent study conducted by Americans for the Arts showed that the arts are big business in Fairfield County, generating $130 million in economic activity and supporting nearly 4,000 jobs annually. Event spending generated 46 million, excluding the cost of admission.

The alliance has expanded its support for professional development programs for those working in the creative economy. In winter 2013, the alliance launched the "Make.Art.Work program" for visual artists in partnership with the New Haven and Hartford arts councils giving artists the tools they need to develop their craft and bring it to the marketplace.

The alliance also fosters collaborative processes among its member organizations with quarterly executive director and marketing roundtable meetings, attended by cultural leaders.

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