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Queens Chronicle

One Percent for Culture seeks to quadruple city funding

One Percent for Culture initiative would quadruple city arts funding

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Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:30 am

A coalition of artists, dancers and representatives from theater companies, zoos and museums from all five boroughs is asking the city to allocate 1 percent of the municipal expense budget to cultural and arts nonprofits annually.

The chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), pledged his support to the 245-member group at a meeting at PS 1 in Long Island City on Tuesday morning.

“I will be your fighter-in-chief,” Van Bramer said.

Representatives from Socrates Sculpture Park, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Bronx Academy for Arts and Dance and No Longer Empty, among many others, showed their support.

“Art can be an active force in cultural tourism and revitalization. More funding would bring more art education and just more life to the city,” said Lucy Lydon, spokeswoman for No Longer Empty, a nomadic public arts group that fills vacant buildings with temporary art shows. The organization curated a show, “How Much Do I Owe You?,” at the old Bank of Manhattan building in Queensboro Plaza, LIC, that’s running through March 13.

More than 25,000 New Yorkers signed the One Percent for Culture petition. The initiative would quadruple funding for the organizations, which is now at one-quarter of a percent.

Additionally, a recent poll showed that 82 percent of city residents support the movement and 52 percent would pay more taxes if they knew the money would go to arts and culture, Van Bramer said.

The coalition asserts cultural funding is the one budget category that generates revenue.

“Nonprofit culture impacts New York industries and generates jobs in many fields, including employing artists, business support, security services, construction, education, restaurants, finance and more,” Chocolate Factory Executive Director Sheila Lewandowski said.

Cultural institutions also feed a booming tourism industry, Van Bramer said.

“Fifty two million tourists visited New York City last year. That’s an all- time high,” Van Bramer said, adding that many of those tourists came for cultural reasons.

Mayor Bloomberg has said he would like to see that number grow to 70 million.

Another component of the group’s push is education.

“Unfortunately far too many students attend city public schools that have no relationship or partnership with our city’s cultural institutions,” Center for Arts Education Executive Director Eric Pryor said. “The One Percent Culture Campaign will help ensure that all of our city’s 1.1 million students have the opportunity for a world class art education here in the cultural capital of the world.”

“We value these institutions and as artists with children we want the programs to be available to them,” said LIC photographer George Garrett, who attended Tuesday’s meeting with his wife, artist Beth Garrett. Beth’s sculptures can be seen at Materials for the Arts in LIC.

Welcome to the discussion.