Advocacy Updates
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. 

DCA Budget Update and a SPECIAL REQUEST
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 12:00 AM


Baseline DCA Budget FY14 Per November Plan

Historically, previous Mayors have presented a preliminary City budget that only includes a portion of the funding required for DCA to operate in the upcoming year; this is commonly known as the “baseline funding” and the remainder of DCA’s funding is restored by the Council and Administration after extensive negotiations. This year, Mayor de Blasio kept the overwhelming majority of Council restorations for DCA in the FY15 Preliminary City budget, thereby increasing the BASELINE from which future DCA budgets will be negotiated.

FY15 DCA Budget Breakdown

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, who also Chairs the Committee on Cultural Affairs, urged the Agency to appeal for more funding. A.R.T./New York will seek full restoration of $7.9M to the DCA budget in FY15.


While we are thrilled that DCA funding has not been seriously cut, we are dealing with a new City Council, and many of them are anxious to know about the cultural activity in their districts. While there may not be a theatre in every City Council district, we know that our community lives throughout New York City. Each A.R.T./New York member should be able to tell members of the City Council the number of employees (full- and part-time) who live in various Council Districts and Boroughs. And as your representative, A.R.T./New York needs to let each Council member know how many of our members and their staff live in each Council District. This is critical data, and we need you to help us collect it.

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:

Arts on the National Stage Updates
Monday, February 24, 2014 12:00 AM


I.  Obama Nominates New NEA Chair

On Tuesday, February 12, President Obama announced that he will nominate Jane Chu, President and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (Kansas City, MO) to be the next chair of the National Endowment for the Arts

Chu has led Kansas City's Kauffman Center since 2006. She was an executive at the Kauffman Fund for Kansas City from 2004 to 2006 and VP of external relations for Union Station Kansas City from 2002 to 2004. She also has degrees in visual arts, piano performance and music education. (Johnson, Ted. "Obama Nominates Kansas City Arts Leader for NEA Post." Variety. N.p., 12 Feb. 2014. Web.)


II.  Charitable Deductions for 501(c)3

Last November, Ginny visited Washington to advocate that Congress maintain the Charitable Deduction and she recently received a note from Robert Gardner of Senator Schumer's office with some good news:


As you probably know, a key provision in the tax code aiding philanthropic organizations expired at the end of 2013--- a provision allowing tax-free distributions from qualifying individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for charitable purposes, known as the IRA charitable rollover (sec. 408(d)(8)).


My boss introduced eliminate the donation limit and make permanent the IRA charitable rollover. The measure was introduced to show support for the IRA rollover with five bipartisan cosponsors: Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Carl Levin (D-MI), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)...Unfortunately, the Republicans objected to moving forward with a package prior to consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.


As a result, we now anticipate consideration of the entire package in the Finance Committee early this year. As a potential tax extenders markup approaches, we are asking interested members of the philanthropic community to voice their support for an extension of the IRA rollover. If you would like to weigh in, an endorsement letter or statement speaking to the importance of a timely reinstatement of this provision would be greatly appreciated.


Please take a moment to send the message like this to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. Here are their addresses:


Senator Charles Schumer                          Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

322 Hart Senate Office Building                 478 Russell

Washington, DC  20510                            Washington, DC  20510

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