By Bill Parry
New York City’s first-ever comprehensive cultural plan, based on the feedback from nearly 200,000 residents in the past year, was released at Material for the Arts in Long Island City Wednesday.
The 180-page report called CreateNYC lays out a blueprint for expanding on the unparalleled strengths of the city’s cultural sector, while targeting investments to address historically underserved neighborhoods across all five boroughs.
The plan also reaffirms the city’s commitment to cultivating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultural workforce that reflects New York City’s residents. CreateNYC is the result of Local Law 46 of 2015 sponsored by City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Councilman Steve Levin, who represents Greenpoint, Williamsburg and several other arts-oriented neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It was signed by Mayor de Blasio in 2015.
“This is a city of unmatched cultural richness that expresses itself on sidewalks, in storefronts, in museums, theaters and parks in every corner of the five boroughs,” de Blasio said. “New York City is the world capital of art and culture. If we are going to continue to live up to that title, we must use every tool we have to ensure that every resident, in every neighborhood, has the same access to cultural opportunities. CreateNYC is the first comprehensive roadmap to lifting up the arts and culture across the city — now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
The plan is aimed at keeping New York an artist friendly city in a time of skyrocketing rents and a variety of economic pressures. Van Bramer called the completion of the first cultural plan for the city a profound and historic achievement.
“We’ve built a plan that will guide our efforts to make art and culture more accessible to all, to empower and train the next generation of artists, and to fully support established and emerging cultural organizations in every borough, especially in areas that are traditionally underserved,” Van Bramer said. “From the beginning of this journey, the development of the cultural plan has been a deeply democratic process, drawing on the perspectives of people from every neighborhood and all walks of life.”
Throughout the engagement process, New Yorkers made it clear that they value the role that culture plays in their community. A Sienna College Research Institute phone survey conducted for CreateNYC found that: 97 percent of the respondents said that arts and culture are important to the overall quality of life in New York City and 77 said they wish they were able to attend more arts and cultural activities.
“This is an exciting moment for everyone who cares about culture in New York City, and as we discovered throughout this process that’s virtually everyone,” Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl said. “We are proud to be the largest local funder of art and culture in America and with CreateNYC in hand, we can make sure that our investments in this singular asset help to address concerns, opportunities, hopes and priorities that residents voiced loud and clear.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr