Cuts threatens staff, programming, and services at hundreds of arts and culture organizations long-term

City Hall, NY – With a looming June 30 city budget deadline, New York City Council leaders, joined by many iconic and community-based New York City arts and cultural institutions, rallied at City Hall to call on Mayor Adams’ Administration to prioritize fully restoring cuts to arts and culture in the budget.

In the November Financial Plan and January Preliminary Budget, members of the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) and hundreds of arts and culture organizations took a combined $53 million cut to their budgets. The mayor’s cuts have pushed many organizations’ budgets into deficits, forcing them to cut staff, programming, and services. As part of the creative sector, these organizations contribute towards $110 billion in economic activity.

The livestream of the rally can be found here. Photos can be found here.

“In just one year, our cultural economy generates around $110 billion in economic activity for New York City,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “The health of our cultural institutions are directly tied to the health of our city, and we cannot afford to cut back on our investments that provide New Yorkers with economic and educational opportunities. As we continue to negotiate the city budget, the Council is pushing for the restoration of $53 million in funding that was cut from our beloved institutions. We must choose the responsible, smart approach that invests in our city’s success and lays the foundation for our future.”

“New York City artists are trendsetters in literature, visual arts, performance arts, and more,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries. “Think about the Harlem Renaissance and the New York School Poets, artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat who have enduring appeal, institutions like the School of Visual Arts, hip hop, rap, salsa, ballet and dance. Arts and culture define New York City and support for cultural institutions and community-based organization is more important than ever as we work together to build a stronger, safer, and more vibrant city. City Council budget negotiations are prioritizing the vital investments we need as we fight for a balanced budget that invests equitably in every community.”

“What’s New York City without culture!” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Committee on Finance. “You can’t talk about how great our city is and then defund all the things that makes New York City great. The reason why we’ve been fighting so hard and know we can restore these cuts is because New York City’s economy has been durable and resilient. This year, we need $53 million for arts and culture and we’re going to fight like heck until we do.”

“The mayor must recognize the incredible value our cultural institutions provide and to stand by them. Culture is the heartbeat of this city and an economic engine,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “New York City’s cultural institutions are located throughout the diverse neighborhoods of the city and include institutions as varied in size and mission as the People’s Theater Project, Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance, and The Studio Museum in Harlem. They have free or discounted admissions, public school programs, services for older adults and people with disabilities.”

“NYC’s culture is in crisis,” said Lucy Sexton, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Culture and Arts. “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. 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!”

“Culture is the fabric of New York City– it brings our communities together and makes New York the greatest city in the world,” said Coco Killingsworth, Chair of the Cultural Institutions Group. “The work of our cultural institutions is robust and wide-reaching. From educational programs, MWBE partnerships, programming for older adults and audiences with disabilities, workforce development, and community composting– culture supports all New Yorkers. Cuts to culture are cuts to our communities, our neighbors, and our economy. We thank the Council for fighting to restore and baseline $53 million to culture in the Fiscal 2025 Adopted budget.”

“As the CEO of Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island, I urge the Mayor of New York City to recognize the critical need to support our cultural institutions. Cuts to culture are devastating, with far-reaching and deep effects, particularly on smaller organizations. These cuts have led to job losses, reduced internships and summer jobs for our youth, and the closure of essential programs and services. Cultural organizations like ours are lifelines to our communities, driving NYC’s economy by generating $110 billion in economic activity annually and employing 300,000 New Yorkers.

“Our cultural ecosystem is vital to the city’s economic health and workforce,” said Jessica B. Phillips, CEO of Historic Richmond Town. “It provides safe public spaces, enriching experiences, and crucial support to communities through educational partnerships, accessible programming, and community services. The recent $6.7 million cut to CDF groups and $5.8 million cut to CIGs have resulted in canceled programs and deferred maintenance, impacting public access and the vibrancy of our city. We need immediate and robust support from the Mayor to restore and sustain funding for our cultural institutions. By investing in culture, we invest in the future of New York City, ensuring it remains a beacon of creativity, innovation, and community for all.”

“Arts and culture organizations are also lifelines for our youth, for low-income New Yorkers, and for families throughout the five boroughs who rely on institutions like New York Botanical Garden,” said Jennifer Bernstein, CEO & The William C. Steere Sr. President of the New York Botanical Garden. “We are the backyard of many Bronx families, providing free critical access to nature and the myriad physical and emotional benefits it offers. Organizations like NYBG keep kids engaged, focused, curious, and excited about their City and the natural world. We produce the scientists, scholars, businesspeople, artists, and well-rounded adults of tomorrow.”

“We call on Mayor Adams to acknowledge that math is math,” said Leonard Jacobs, Executive Director of Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning. “And the math tells us that culture delivers billions in economic activity to our City every year. We need to restore and baseline $53 Million in the Fiscal 2025 Adopted Budget to reverse all cuts and keep the culture sector stable. Failure to restore and baseline what amounts to a minuscule fraction of our City budget will kick the ass of our economy, threaten tourism, and throw people out of work. Is that really what New York needs right now?”

“Arts and culture are a large part of what fuels the vibrant life and economy of our city,” said Ted Lambert, Executive Director, The Town Hall. “We thank the City Council for recognizing this and for being steadfast supporters of the arts.”

“Historically marginalized communities have long faced the stark reality of underinvestment in arts and culture, while more privileged communities benefit from systemic inequities,” said Candice Anderson, Executive Director, Cool Culture. “Restoration of these critical funds is essential to repairing the harm caused by cuts within the arts and cultural field, ensuring that culture continues to generate jobs and tax revenue for NYC, and to the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers.”

“The clock is ticking to preserve culture for all in NYC, and we urge the Mayor to fully restore and baseline $53 Million for culture in the upcoming City budget,” said Adrian Benepe, President and CEO of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “Only with this City funding can we adequately operate the museums, gardens, zoos, performing arts venues and the hundreds of neighborhood arts and culture programs that allow City residents to thrive and the city be a magnet for tourism and business.”

“Culture is for everyone! Cultural institutions are a necessity for strong, vibrant communities,” said Gina Duncan, President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). “We provide jobs, services, enlightenment, and entertainment. It’s crucial that the city sufficiently support our sector– it’s an investment in a brighter future for all New Yorkers!”

“Non-profit cultural organizations, both large and small, educate, engage, and inspire millions of visitors a year, including hundreds of thousands of school children and teachers and encourage science learning, exploration and nature play,” said John F. Calvelli, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Culture and Arts generates $110 billion in annual economic activity for NYC. The Wildlife Conservation Society for example, employs 1900 youth ages 14-24 generating $5m in wages. We urge Mayor Adams, to restore and baseline $53 million in the City budget to ensure organizations like the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium remain an economic engine for the city as well as accessible and inspirational learning destinations.”

“We must continue to expand access to the arts so that every New Yorker can feel a sense of belonging, pride in and ownership of the city’s vibrant theatre and performing arts ecosystem,” said Deeksha Gaur, Executive Director of TDF. “In school arts programs, field trips to Broadway, and more help grow the next generation of arts audiences. The arts in New York City currently attract millions of audience members who in turn funnel $110 billion into the City’s economy annually. The city must restore and baseline $53 million for arts and culture in this year’s budget.”

“Cultural institutions are essential to New York City, and the rich diversity of arts programming opportunities they offer is crucial to providing a holistic education for our students,” said Kimberly Olsen, Executive Director of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable.  “Their continued partnerships with schools across our city are a lifeline for students who otherwise lack access to the arts — and any cuts to cultural funding would have a dramatic and negative effect on students while exacerbating their already inequitable access to the arts. Lawmakers should recognize the critical role that the cultural arts have on our students’ wellbeing and guarantee the funding for cultural institutions remains whole.”

“Bronx Arts Ensemble has struggled to deal with the challenges of being “zeroed out” of funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Cultural Development Fund (CDF) this year” said Judith Insell, Executive Director, Bronx Arts Ensemble. “Over the past 52 years, we have endured “the Bronx burning,” stock market crashes, 9.11, & a global pandemic…we will likely NOT survive another year without CDF funding. Any thoughts of lowering the New York City allocations of funds to the Cultural Development Funds must cease at this very moment…The conversation should be about increasing the allocation to at least 1% of the New York City budget in Fiscal Year 2025 to ensure that the arts and culture sector of New York City survives and thrives.”

“It is undeniable that the health and well-being of New Yorkers is bolstered by its vibrant and diverse cultural community, and as Carnegie Hall has demonstrated for decades, the public-private partnership between the CIG and the City has yielded extraordinary benefits both city- and statewide,” said Carnegie Hall Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson. “We know that culture supports our local economy: the CIG’s direct impact on the City economy includes approximately $500 million in spending on local vendors for goods and services. For Carnegie Hall, we welcome over 750,000 attendees each season to the 170 concerts we produce, and some 500 events presented by outside producers, in three halls as well as in community venues throughout the five boroughs. And as if driving economic revenue to New York City isn’t enough on its own, arts and culture is a lifeline for our youth, for low-income New Yorkers and for families throughout the five boroughs who rely on their local and citywide institutions.  We urge the Administration to restore and baseline $53 Million in the Fiscal 2025 Adopted Budget to reverse all cuts and keep the culture sector stable. If these cuts are not rescinded now, this unprecedented disinvestment in arts and culture risk harm to our economy, our communities and NYC’s standing as a world-class destination and cultural leader.”

“New York City is home to world-renowned actors, playwrights, directors, designers, and producers. Our vibrant, inclusive, dynamic theaters are why millions of people choose to live in, work in, and visit our great City each year,” said Risa Shoup and Talia Corren, Co-Executive Directors, the Alliance of Resident Theatres New York. “The majority of these theater companies have historically received crucial support from the Cultural Development Fund, and we join our colleagues and the City Council in demanding a restoration of funds. Cuts and delays in notification have already had catastrophic impacts year over year, and we cannot absorb more; theaters are now struggling to pay staff, artists, and rent – reductions that threaten not only the arts and culture community but the other businesses, like bars, hotels, dry cleaners, lumber yards, and others, who rely on their business. If we don’t fund our theaters, we lose their creativity and their power at a moment in history when we need it the most.”

“The Public Theater operates on the belief that art and culture belongs to everyone,” said Patrick Willingham, Executive Director at The Public Theater. “The Fiscal Year 2025 budget must ensure The Public Theater and all our cultural colleagues will be able to provide free and accessible programming to New Yorkers with a restoration of $53 Million. Thank you, again, to Speaker Adams and our Councilmembers Carlina Rivera and Councilmember Gale Brewer for their dedication and support of The Public Theater and all cultural institutions in NYC.”

“Investing in arts and STEM education is crucial for cultivating a vibrant, innovative society,”said Minerva Tantoco, Interim President & CEO of the New York Hall of Science. “The arts inspire creativity and foster critical thinking, while STEM fields drive technological advancements and economic growth. By funding these essential areas, we empower the next generation to think broadly, solve complex problems, and contribute meaningfully to our cultural and scientific landscapes.”

“Cultural institutions are drivers of not just the social well-being of cities, but also their economic well-being,” said American Museum of Natural History President Sean M. Decatur. “It’s vital that the arts and culture sector, which is so central New York City’s identity and success, receives the support it needs to keep the city thriving.”