City’s Culture Campaign Growing
By MEGAN MONTALVO
|Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer speaks in support of the One Percent For Culture campaign during an event at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City on Tuesday.
Photo by Megan Montalvo.
Although the City attracts tourists for its plethora of art institutions, when it comes to receiving monetary support from the government, local artists and organizations are saying they are getting the short end of the stick.
On Jan. 8, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) headed to MoMA PS1 in Long Island City to announce his backing for the One Percent for Culture Campaign, a two-year-old initiative that seeks to increase the City’s financial commitment for the 1,200-plus cultural organizations in all five boroughs.
According to Van Bramer, who is also the Council’s chair of cultural affairs, by increasing funding for culture and the arts in all five boroughs, New York City will not only sustain its dominance as the world’s premiere cultural capital, but will also allow artists living in NYC to earn an honest wage.
“At a difficult economic point in our City and our nation’s history, you might ask, ‘How can we afford to do this?’” Van Bramer said. “Given the fact that culture and the arts produce an economic impact in the area of 7.6 billion dollars for the City of New York, I would say how can we afford not to?”
Originally launched at the West Indian American Day Carnival parade in 2010, organizers behind the campaign’s 245-member committee say that despite the 100,000-plus jobs that local cultural institutions generate, nonprofits are currently receiving less than one-fourth of one percent of the City’s overall expense budget.
“The rich array of arts and cultural institutions across the City’s five boroughs provide invaluable opportunities for our City’s school children to experience and learn about the arts, culture, history and more,” said Eric Pryor, executive director for the Center for Arts Education. “Unfortunately, far too many students attend City public schools that have no relationship with our City’s cultural institutions. The One Percent for Culture Campaign will help ensure that all of our 1.1 million students have the opportunity for a world class arts education here in the cultural capital of the world.”
Among a room full of artists and local museum chairmen at MoMA for Van Bramer’s announcement was Lucy Lydon of No Longer Empty, a small arts organization that currently has a transaction-themed exhibit on display in Long Island City.
For Lydon, who consistently interacts with local artists, the idea of generating more financial support for cultural organizations was met with excitement and a sense of hope.
“Our organization was founded on the notion that art affects so much more than just the art world,” Lydon said. “Every time a new exhibit opens, it brings economic growth to local neighborhoods, helps support local business and does a great deal to engage youth. I hope that lawmakers will take note of this announcement and realize just how invaluable art organizations are.”
As part of the campaign’s continued efforts to push for more funding, organizers have created an online petition to support their cause at www.oneforculture.org/sign.
With use of the petition signatures, organizers intend to inform the 2013 municipal candidates of their constituents’ support of the campaign and will ask the candidates to pledge to increase City funding for nonprofit culture to a full one percent of the municipal expense budget.
Beyond the organizers’ goal, Lydon said that she hopes the campaign will bring about an awareness that all New Yorkers, including artists, deserve to make a fair wage.
“The term ‘struggling artist’ may be widely known,” she said. “But, the fact of the matter is that they too need to earn an honest wage. No one should have to struggle just to do what they love.”
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or email@example.com.