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Internet resources for what you need to know on NYC Arts
Five Favorite Sites For Beginners

The Topic
"Arts" is an all-inclusive category encompassing virtually all forms of creative expression. Among its major disciplines are: music, theatre, literature, visual art, spoken word, film and video, and, increasingly, the internet.
The Context
Countless artists, writers, and performers work in New York City every day. Together with their audiences (both homegrown and far-flung) they constantly define and redefine New York City's creative landscape, making it an unparalleled cultural feast.

The City of New York administers a wide-ranging network of programs and subsidies to support the City's artists and arts institutions. The Department of Cultural Affairs estimates that there are more than 1,200 nonprofit arts organizations in the five boroughs. Cultural Affairs provides partial support to about five hundred such groups. For FY2000 arts support will exceed $100 million. Including capital expenditures for future projects, that figure rises to upwards of $300 million.

The Reporter
Norma Munn is the chairwoman of the New York City Arts Coalition, a citywide advocacy group. She is also president of the Artists Community Federal Credit Union, and is a former chairwoman of The City Club of New York.
The Archives
See past monthly updates for Arts.

by Norma Munn

The Governor's Proposed Cut in the Budget for the Arts

(Jan '01) Arts folks are not happy that in his new budget, Governor George Pataki has proposed a nine percent cut in funding for the State Council on the Arts, whose budget is already only $48.4 million.

As recently as mid November, at the annual Governor's Arts Awards, Pataki offered glowing words of strong support for the arts. Some in the crowd seemed unaware that the governor's actual record is not quite as supportive as his public remarks. Including the current budget proposal, his administration has recommended cuts in three budgets, level funding in two, a miniscule increase one year and a significant increase in one year. He also decreased funding mid-year during his second year in office, and vetoed a legislative increase of four million dollars in 1999. At best, this is a checkered record.

So, why do arts folks feel they are better off under this administration than under his Democratic predecessor, former Governor Mario Cuomo? Simple. In 1992, admittedly a difficult budget year, then-Governor Cuomo cut the arts budget by 41 percent, reducing it from $49 million to $29 million. No other state agency went through such destruction. And, it was destruction. Given the delay in passing state budgets, arts groups are often mid-way through their budget year before they know what the State Council on the Arts will provide. The delay plays havoc with planning, and costs money as groups have to borrow money. But, when a cut of this magnitude is absorbed in such a short time and after a budget year has started, it creates deficits that cannot be avoided. Cuomo continued the cuts in 1993 with an additional $5 million. After that experience, only complete annihilation would seem worse.

Recovery for the arts started as the legislature forced increases in 1994, and as Cuomo prepared to run for another term.

None of this excuses the current governor for his recommending such a large cut, nor are arts groups and their boards planning to quietly accept the proposed decrease. The reality is that it is the state legislature that restores and protects the arts year in and year out, and it has done so both in this administration and in the prior one. That restoration and increase has traditionally been primarily the responsibility of the Republicans in the Senate, which is why the potential loss of Senator Roy Goodman in the recent election was of such great concern to the arts community. His re-election brought a collective sigh of relief from the arts field.

The Assembly has over the past few years begun to participate more in the process of providing arts funding, but there too there are changes. The arts committee was chaired for the last three years by Paul Tokasz of Buffalo, who recently was promoted to majority leader. The new arts chair is Joseph Morelle from Rochester, formerly chair of the small business committee. Given the size of this cut, Assemblyman Morelle is facing a difficult year as he starts this new chairmanship.

In the midst of the proposed cuts to the State Council on the Arts, Pataki was busy announcing three large capital gifts to New York City cultural groups. The Rose Center at the American Museum of Natural History is slated for $13 million, which has some people asking just how much that project actually cost. The Intrepid Museum is targeted for $7.5 million so it can "remain one of the New York City's top tourist attractions." (A comment fit for analysis on The Spin Room!) And, $1 million is going to the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Local Development Corporation.

Despite these sops, the bottom line is that the arts community is deeply upset by the proposed cut. The funding level currently equals 1987 in actual dollars, and the governor proposes reducing it even further. Factoring in inflation, the arts community is being funded at 1977 levels. This is in a state where arts are a major export product, a major tourist attraction, a significant part of the economy, a larger employer than construction, and for many an important reason for putting up with the otherwise often frustrating and expensive living conditions of New York City. So, in a year of unparalleled budget surpluses, why cut the arts.

Norma's Favorite Sites For Beginners:

  • NYC Department of Cultural Affairs - Official NYC site sings the Mayor's praises as champion of the arts; details a funding policy clearly weighted towards the city's largest cultural institutions; and explains services offered (e.g. Materials for the Arts, and DCA's Artist's Certification Program). Check out Percent for Art, NYC's program for art in civic spaces, where you'll find great images of work by Vito Acconci, Mel Chin, Alice Aycock and many more.
  • New York State Council on the Arts - Committed to maintaining New York State's culture, NYSCA accomplishes its goal by making grants to non-profit arts organizations. Like the DCA and NYFA (see below), NYSCA is very supportive of those programs which marry technology and the arts, as well as arts-in-education "partnerships". Much emphasis on multiculturalism, decentralization and special opportunities for "the underrepresented". Surf this site to find out where NYSCA's dollars are going and why - as well as how to apply for funding.
  • New York Foundation for the Arts - Statewide service organization, set up by NYSCA. NYFA supports thousands of artists, non-profit arts orgs and arts-in-education initiatives throughout New York, offering fiscal sponsorship, workshops, loans, fellowships, in-school artist residencies and more. Info-rich site but a bit tedious to navigate. Super links! See also Artswire, NYFA's brainchild and now the nation's premier online communications network for the arts.
  • Local Arts Councils in NYC - Check out theBronx Council on the Arts, Brooklyn Arts Council, Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island, Harlem Arts Council , Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Queens Council on the Arts for the skinny on grassroots initiatives.
  • Center for Arts Information - Indy non-profit works closely with municipal agencies to administer ambitious $36 million, 5-year program aimed at restoring arts to public schools. Site details the 82 partnerships created since CAE's inception involving public schools and 135 arts groups.

Other Recommendations:

  • New York Women in Film and Television - Insider perspective on how the film industry works in NYC. Interesting series of open meetings about film and tv.
  • Third World Newsreel - Great site for searching by topic for films and video you may recall only vaguely. 30 year collection.
  • Harvestworks - Established for artists using electronic technology, but site is easy to use and should pique the curiosity of anyone interested in the arts. Calendar and good links to lots of other sites.
  • Meet the Composer - Offers listing of opportunities competitions for artists, and for the non-composer has a great series of conversations with composers.
  • Poets & Writers - A bit focused on the industry, but the Trivia question alone is worth visiting if you are a reader. Good resource page.
  • The Kitchen - This center for video, music, dance, performance and literature has real info on video. List of those it has sponsored, presented or worked with reads like a Who's Who of the video/music/performance combinations we now take for granted.
  • Theatre Development Fund - Group supports production of new play and musicals, but best known for the TKTS booth in Times Square. Advantage of the site, aside from telling you a lot more about theatre and TDF, is that you can get on their mailing list for discount seating if you are on the following "students, teachers, union members, retired person, performing arts professionals, the clergy, and members of the armed forces."

Visit the Topic Archives!

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