New DCA Commissioner
Monday, April 14, 2014 12:00 AM


I. Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director of the Queens Museum to become Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs


Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane de Blasio, Tom Finkelpearl, Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer & Laurie Cumbo. Photo by

From left to right: Marta Moreno Vega, Council Member Laurie Cumbo, First Lady Chirlane de Blasio, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Tom Finkelpearl, Maj. Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Melody Capote. Photo by Michael Hickey, 

As most of you probably read in the press, on April 7th, Mayor de Blasio appointed Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director of the Queens Museum, as Commissioner for the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the event, which was held at the newly renovated Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Park. The feeling in the room was one of great unity, from small community-based groups to Queens Theater in the Park’s Managing Director Taryn Sacramone, to Arnold Lehman of the Brooklyn Museum. 

To read more about the ways Tom Finkelpearl transformed the Queens Museum, visit Gallerist NY

Tom turned the renovation of the Queens Museum into an opportunity to transform what it means to be a museum in the 21st Century. In 2006, he hired Naila Rosario, a community organizer who had spearheaded political campaigns, to find out what the Corona community wanted and needed. There are 138 languages spoken in Queens, more than in any other borough of New York City, and more than in any other City in the United States!  By spending seven years deeply engaging with the diverse people and communities of Queens, Finkelpearl changed the paradigm for what it means to be a museum.

Tom Finkelpearl will assume his Commissioner duties in May, and we already have a request out to him, inviting him to a reception at A.R.T./New York’s South Oxford Space where he can meet our diverse and dynamic community!

All of us at A.R.T./New York congratulate Tom Finkelpearl on his appointment, and look forward to working with him.


II. City Council Approved Legislation Extending NYC Charter Mandated Dates Related to the City’s Executive Budget

Given the City Council’s actions, the following dates have changed:

III. NYSCA Budget Passes - $35.6M


On March 31st, the State Legislature allocated $35.6M in grant funds for NYSCA. $4M of these funds are allocated for the Regional Economic Council grants. While we had hoped for an increase, we are grateful that NYSCA’s funding was not cut. We are also glad that a proposal, which had been inserted into the budget language less than 3 weeks ago, was withdrawn. It read:

“The Senate proposes to redistribute Council on the Arts local assistance grants to achieve regional balance statewide.”

Neither the Assembly nor the State Arts Committee was responsible for this proposal. I joined members of the New York City Arts Coalition in writing my elected officials and protesting this recommendation, pointing out how much it would hurt not only the arts but those industries we support: restaurants, printers, graphic designers, caterers, local stores, etc. Thanks to this effort, this language was taken out, but as arts advocates we need to be aware of the fact that this idea is out there.

Please write thank you notes to Speaker Sheldon Silver, your State Senator and State Assembly Member. Sheldon Silver’s address is:

LOB 932
Albany, NY 12248

To find out the name of the State Senator where you perform regularly or have an office visit: . To find out your State Assemblymember, visit:


IV. One last request 

Please distribute the survey we sent in a previous Advocacy Alert to every staff member. We are trying to determine how many theater artists/workers live in each of New York City’s 52 City Council Districts. This is very important for advocacy purposes. If each theater would like their individual data, we can work on getting it for you.

Please ask each of your staff members to find out what their City Council voting district is with this tool:

Then have them let us know by completing the A.R.T./New York Member Employee City Council District Survey:

Please do this as soon as possible.