New York City Planning to Revamp Funding for Arts Groups

The prospect of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio changing the way the city allocates its funding for the arts has some arts and cultural organizations in the city worried about losing a portion of their funding, the reports.

According to the Times, the mayor and his lieutenants have been examining the city's $178 million arts budget with an eye to boosting the profile of — and possibly the amount of funding received by — smaller organizations in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The reevaluation is taking place as arts organizations nationwide struggle to adjust to an environment characterized by aging audiences and softening philanthropic support, increased competition for younger donors and audiences, and threats by the Trump White House to zero out funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Faced with the prospect of potential cuts, organizations like the are working hard to make clear how much they depend on city funding. City Center is one of thirty-three groups housed in city-owned buildings, on city-owned land, or both that make up the Cultural Institutions Group, which collectively receives about 63 percent of the city's arts budget. The remaining 37 percent is distributed through a competitive process among nearly a thousand organizations that are not housed in or on city property.

Jimmy Van Bramer, majority leader of the New York City Council and chair of its Cultural Affairs Committee, recently told the Times he had helped spearhead legislation to revamp the city's century-old process of funding cultural institutions, with an emphasis on identifying inequities in the way funds were allocated and creating more funding opportunities for small, community-based nonprofit organizations. But while Van Bramer acknowledged that larger institutions may be worried about losing funding under his plan, he was sanguine about their prospects, telling the Times, "I don't think you need to take from one to give to another."

Darren Walker, president of the , which financed the research behind the plan, said redistributing more of the city's money to smaller arts organizations makes sense. "If culture in New York only means large, rich organizations," he told the Times, "then we lose the lifeblood, which are the small, innovative, entrepreneurial, off-the-beaten-track kind of organizations with small budgets that the city should also be funding. If it’s not possible for those organizations to thrive anymore, New York will have all of the features of an unequal city."

Robin Pogrebin. "." New York Times 05/08/2017.