The mayor’s preliminary budget released on May 3 proposes to cut about $47 million from the Department of Cultural Affairs, the city agency that funds public and nonprofit cultural programs.
So the dance begins; these will not be the final numbers.
The Mayor’s Office proposes cuts to the arts and then if the usual pattern holds, the issue will be discussed until much smaller cuts are signed into law in May or June.
“We are currently working with city government to come to a budget for the next fiscal year. It’s still a work in progress,” said Danai Pointer, a DCLA spokeswoman, who cited how last year the cuts were slimmed down by about $50 million.
If that doesn’t happen this year the proposal would be a significant bite out of city-funded arts programs.
“If these cuts were enacted it would be terrible for Queens,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside). “Our smaller arts groups are surviving on the margins as it is. For some of them it could mean closing their doors.”
To break this down even further: the budget suggests a cut of about $35 million from the cultural institution groups, which funds institutions located in city-owned buildings such as MOMA PS1, Flushing Town Hall, the Museum of the Moving Image and the like. The other $12 million could be sliced from the cultural development fund, which supports smaller nonprofits.
“We can do less programming with less money,” said Valerie Green, executive director of Green Space, which rents performance spaces to dancers and relies on public funds for about 10 percent of its overall budget.
“I think it’s ludicrous. It’s a drop in the ocean for what it will save the city and I think it will diminish NYC culture,” LIC Arts Open festival director Richard Mazda said. “In the arms budget $47 million might mean one helicopter, but for the arts it means companies going out of business.”