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Internet resources for what you need to know on NYC Arts

by Norma Munn

The Topic: Arts refers to theatre, dance, music, cinema, architecture, photography, painting, and the creative use of the written word, as in poetry, novels, non-fiction and drama.

The Context: NYC's arts infrastructure is the largest in the country, and among the City's most important economic sectors. The City provides funds to approximately 500 of the estimated 850 professional non-profit arts organizations in the City, primarily through the Department of Cultural Affairs. Capital funding is also made available although mostly to arts groups in city-owned buildings, such as the Metropolitan Museum, Snug Harbor, the New York Hall of Science, BAM, and the Bronx Botanical Garden. Other arts-related City agencies include the City's Art Commission, which reviews and approves designs to be placed on City property; the City-initiated Project ARTS, which now reaches around two thirds of the public schools; the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting; and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Reporter: Norma Munn is Chair of the New York City Arts Coalition, founder and President of the Artists Community Federal Credit Union, and former Chair of The City Club of New York.

The Archives: See past monthly updates for Arts.

Norma's Five Favorite Sites For Beginners:

  • New York Foundation for the Arts - National service organization providing fellowships to artists; arts in education programs; a revolving loan fund for arts groups, and a fiscal sponsorship program for both artists and emerging arts groups. In collaboration with NYSCA, NYFA has created [email protected] † a guide to arts and technology resources in NYS. Also recommended: ArtsWire. Offers a list of artists and arts groups' sites all over the US.
  • New York State Council on the Arts - Uniquely charged with the task of "encouraging and assisting rather than in any ways limiting the freedom of artistic expression that is essential for the well-being of the arts." State agency through which professional non-profit arts community is funded. With an annual budget of nearly $50 million, it is the largest state supported arts council in the nation. Grants are provided in a range of arts disciplines, such as theatre, museum, dance, electronic media & film, literature, folk arts, architecture, music, visual arts and arts in education.
  • NYC Department of Cultural Affairs - This official site features an exhaustive list of NYC cultural institutions, info on how to become and NYC 'certified' artist and a list of public art sponsors. Also manages Materials for the Arts, which recycles donated office equipment, supplies, and other materials to non-profit arts groups in the City.
  • Center for Arts Information - Recently created organization working to expand arts in the public school system. Provides funding to arts groups in partnership with the schools. Extensive links.
  • Arts Councils in NYC - Bronx Council on the Arts, Brooklyn Arts Council, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Queens Council on the Arts - Find out more about community-based efforts to make the arts accessible to New Yorkers.

In The News: No loft lost

Loft-dwellers again found themselves political pawns in the Albany budget battle. The Loft Law, first passed in 1982, allows artists to live legally in commercial loft spaces in the City. The law aims to bring those buildings converted to residential use into compliance with NYC and NYS housing laws. The recently-passed legislation grants loft-owners another 21 months to be in compliance, so they may eventually receive a residential certificate of occupancy. Of the estimated 4500-5000 loft units in the City, only one-third has achieved compliance; a substantial number are awaiting inspection.

As in each of the last two legislative sessions, the issue was held hostage to the larger budget battle. Assembly Speaker Silver was unwilling to compromise on an issue of great interest and importance to his constituents. The Loft Law was to be part of an omnibus bill, but last minute efforts by the Governor to add Powerball to the bill dissolved the tentative consensus. The law finally passed, but only once paired with the renewal of Quick Draw Video Lottery. This odd pairing has earned loft residents and owners yet another extension in this 17 year saga.

Other Recommendations:

  • Creative Time - Works with artists to create innovative performances in public sites around the City. Also major organizer of Day Without Art, an international effort to remember those artists who have died of AIDS. Check out the chronicle of 42nd street † testimony to NYC's artistic character.
  • Dance Theater Workshop (DTW): Presenter of wide range of modern dance and other performances suited to small venues. Manages the National Performance Network † 50 small performance venues around the country, and the Suitcase Fund, which provides support for international cross cultural arts efforts.
  • National Campaign for Freedom of Expression - National organization concerned with artistic expression and free speech. Lots of info on education, advocacy and the First Amendment.
  • American for the Arts - National arts service group for local arts councils, united arts funds, and community arts service groups. Wide range of information from education in the arts to advocacy available on the site.

Norma Sounds Off:

It is ironic that 'the world's greatest city', whose identity is so closely associated with the arts, should have such ill-defined policies about it. In fact, there is no coherent City policy about the arts. Decisions are made ad hoc from year to year. The City needs to decide what are issues of importance and budgetary priorities in the arts.

Visit the Topic Archives!

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Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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