Leaders from more than 30 prominent cultural institutions are calling on Mayor Eric Adams to reconsider proposed budget cuts to the arts.
The city-wide appeal led by New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) comes in response to Adams slashing the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs budget. In November, the mayor slashed DCLA funding by $9.3 million in his “Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG).” Most of these cuts directly affected CIGs.
The city also plans to reduce DCLA spending by around $8 million annually until 2027.
The CIG penned a letter to the mayor on Jan. 16 that included representatives from six Queens institutions asking the mayor to restore the cuts. The letter commends Adams for his support of the cultural sector when he took office but voices serious concerns about the future of arts funding.
The institutions in Queens that signed onto the letter—MoMA PS1, the Queens Theatre, the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Flushing Town Hall, New York Hall of Science and the Queens Botanical Garden—note that the proposed cuts would disproportionately affect the borough’s thriving cultural scene.
“The proposed budget cuts to the arts, wildlife conservation, gardens, and science centers will have a major impact,” said Jose Ortiz, deputy director of MoMA PS1, and Queens Vice-Chair for CIG. “We will likely see reductions in staffing levels, open hours, programming, and community outreach as a result of these significant cuts. We call upon the Mayor and City Council to restore funding to our city’s essential cultural institutions, which are economic drivers in the communities we serve— especially here in Queens.”
The cultural sector, while receiving a modest 0.2 percent of NYC’s $107 billion operating budget, generates $22 billion in economic activity. The figure underscores the economic impact of the arts, particularly pertinent for a borough as culturally diverse as Queens.
Coco Killingsworth, a CIG member, notes that arts funding also enriches the lives of New Yorkers and visitors.
“Culture funding delivers jobs, large and unique economic activity, and private philanthropy – and, most importantly, brings joy and wisdom to New Yorkers and our millions of visitors,” Killingsworth said. “The tens of thousands of employees who work for City cultural institutions can only make New York the greatest city in the world if we are able to retain this small, yet critical amount of City funding.”