Mayor’s FY25 Executive Budget failed to restore repeated cuts to city’s institutional pillars

City Hall, NY – Ahead of the City Council’s Executive Budget hearing by the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, with the Committee on Finance, the Council called for full restorations of the mayor’s cuts to the city’s cultural institutions and three public library systems.

Cultural institutions are integral to the economy and enrichment of the city, providing access to diverse programs for children, families, and communities. The cultural and creative economy generates $110 billion in economic activity for our city. Yet, cultural institutions have been forced to absorb significant cuts over fiscal years 2024 and 2025 by the mayor’s administration. The Council identified the need to restore $75.6 million in its Preliminary Budget Response, but the Mayor’s Executive Budget only included $15 million. To ensure our city remains the world’s cultural capital and continues to thrive, the city budget must fully restore funding to these organizations and programs.

Similarly, libraries across the city have been severely impacted by the mayor’s budget cuts and face a shortfall of $58.3 million as a result. Libraries provide vitally important programs to New Yorkers of all ages in every neighborhood, like adult education classes, homework help for students, literacy and reading programs for young children, technology classes, and workforce development services. New Yorkers across the city have felt the impact of reduced services at all three library systems, including the loss of Sunday service, due to the mayor’s November cuts.  

The Council has been a consistent supporter of cultural institutions and libraries, and will continue to prioritize them in the budget. The Council’s Preliminary Budget Response released in April outlined their funding needs. They include:

Supporting New York City’s Arts and Cultural Organizations

The Council has called for the restoration of $75.6 million to cultural institutions, including baselining the $40 million allocated in Fiscal Year 2024 for Cultural Institution Groups (CIGs), across-the-board grant increases for all Cultural Development Fund (CDF) recipients, and support many of the City’s artists, as well as the $20.1 million Fiscal 2024 cut and the $15.5 million Fiscal 2025 cut. In the Executive Budget, the Administration made partial restorations to its November and January cuts to arts and cultural organizations of $15 million.

Restoring 7-Day Service for the Brooklyn, Queens and New York Public Libraries

The Council has called on the Administration to allocate an additional $58.3 million to the City’s three library systems to restore its series of funding cuts, avoid reduced hours and programming, and reinstate Sunday library service. This funding would restore the baseline cut of $22.1 million to libraries’ budgets, reinstate the one-shot funding of $20.5 million from Fiscal 2024, and cover the $15.7 million subsidy provided through City Council discretionary funding at budget adoption last June. These commitments would make the Fiscal 2025 budget for libraries commensurate with the adopted Fiscal 2024 funding level.

Libraries have an essential presence in every neighborhood of New York, providing indispensable services in a safe and reliable space for youth, seniors, immigrants, and other New Yorkers. Along with the increased cost of programing and circulations, the systems have also experienced a rise in the cost of materials, staff, and operating expenses. These additional funds are needed to help maintain our City’s libraries. The City’s libraries strengthen community engagement, and this funding would ensure they do not have to continue with reduced hours, collections, services, or staff.

“Cultural institutions and libraries are pillars of our city’s neighborhoods that the City Council has been a steadfast champion for supporting in the city budget,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “The cultural and creative economy generates $110 billion in economic activity for our city. Libraries are among our most precious public resources, serving as community information hubs that provide programs and services for New Yorkers of all ages. The only way to remain the cultural capital of the world and to restore adequate library service to neighborhoods is for the City to invest in these beloved institutions.”

“Support for arts organizations, cultural institutions, and our public libraries is more important than ever as we work together to build a stronger, safer, and more vibrant city,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations. “New York is one of a kind and a beacon for expression and creativity. Libraries and our cultural organizations are valuable institutions that provide diverse performances, renowned theater, language classes, access to technology, career and financial services, and countless other experiences and opportunities. These entities support families across the boroughs and generate billions of dollars in economic activity. I remain committed to working alongside Speaker Adrienne Adams and in coalition with colleagues to fight for a balanced and equitable budget.”

“I was incredibly lucky to learn to play a few chords on the guitar as part of my public-school education,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Committee on Finance. “Thanks to the City of New York, those few chords allowed me to travel the world, playing music and learning invaluable things about life and our human society along the way. All that is to say, I know arts, music, and culture are not “extra.” They are a deep part of our everyday experiences, baseline to what it is to be human. From our libraries to our museums to the bright lights of Broadway, our Council will always fight for the institutions that safeguard our culture.”

“Culture is the fabric of New York City. The work of our cultural institutions ranges from education to programming for older adults and audiences with disabilities, to workforce development, to community composting,” said Coco Killingsworth, Chair of the Cultural Institutions Group. “While we are grateful for the partial restorations to culture in the Mayor’s Executive Budget, we still have a long way to go to reach a level that is sustainable for our small, medium, and large cultural institutions. We are thankful for the Council’s steadfast support for our cultural community and hope to see $53M restored and baselined in Fiscal 2025.”

“NYC’s culture is in crisis. This year’s budget cuts have had a devastating impact on the sector, which was already reeling from rising costs, audiences still not back to 2019 levels, and a retreat from culture funding by foundations,” said Lucy Sexton, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Culture and Arts. “We are seeing closures, layoffs, reduced hours, and less shows and classes being offered. This is especially damaging for organizations in low wealth communities without a pool of private donors or deep pockets. That means that our communities are less vibrant, our youth and seniors less engaged, and our arts workers less employed. The city must reverse the cuts and invest in a thriving, joyous, and prosperous city.”

“It’s clear that New Yorkers love and need their libraries,” said Anthony W. Marx, President of The New York Public Library. “Yet here we are once again, tin cups in hand outside City Hall, pleading to have our funding restored. This budget dance is exhausting, and horrifically unfair to the patrons who rely on the vital services we provide in every corner of this city. Enough with the games – our funding should be restored and baselined.”

“This is the greatest city in the world, and New Yorkers should have the greatest public libraries, with weekend service, diverse programs, and robust access to books and other resources,” said Dennis M. Walcott, President and CEO of Queens Public Library. “Through the City Council’s tremendous advocacy, our ongoing partnership with the Administration, and the outpouring of support from the public, we remain hopeful we can find a way to fully fund libraries and prevent the dire consequences of the cuts from becoming a reality.”

“From increased visits to new card applications, demand for library service continues to grow,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “We should be delighted, but instead we may be forced to further reduce hours and programming, potentially losing yet another day of service just when our patrons need us most. Our City leaders know how much New Yorkers depend on their libraries, and we are hopeful that together, they will come to our aid and fully restore library funding.”