COVID-19 Impact Data Needed for Arts Funding

Hello everyone,

On Monday, The City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations held a hearing on the impact of COVID-19 on the field. 

During the hearing, Committee Chair Jimmy Van Bramer stressed the urgency for as much data as possible to make the case to restore arts funding.

For this reason, I ask you all to fill out two important surveys that will help us advocate for your needs to the Council and the funding community at large.

  1. Complete this survey regarding your losses due to COVID-19This is a follow up survey to the one we distributed in March, but we encourage everyone to complete it whether you completed the March survey or not.
  2. Fill out our most recent survey listing your top 3 needs moving forward.

Below, you will find a summary of the hearing from our colleagues at Cozen O’Connor, including the Testimony from DCLA Commissioner Gonzalo Casals

Thank you for your cooperation and support during this process. There is so much I want to say to you; please know that all of us at A.R.T./New York remain committed to working with you to create a more just, equitable, and inclusive community and to bring an end to the systemic racism in our own organization and NYC’s nonprofit theatres.

You inspire me every day.

Many thanks, 

Dear Clients,

On June 22nd, 2020 the New York City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations held an oversight hearing on DCLA, COVID-19 and Cultural Organizations in NYC. In addition, the Committee discussed a piece of legislation that would require the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) to create a report related to New York City-based art and cultural institutions’ plans for reopening, post-COVID-19 closure.

The Committee heard testimony from NYC DCLA Commissioner Gonzalo Casals, who was participating in his first Council meeting as Commissioner. In addition, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, numerous cultural organizations, and advocates submitted testimony. While the hearing was focused on COVID-19’s impact on the city’s cultural community, it turned into a broader conversation on DCLA’s budget and the cultural community’s role in promoting social justice. Please see attached for the Admin’s testimony and Committee Report, with highlights of the hearing below.

  • Commissioner Gonzalo Casals began his testimony by outlining the profound impact COVID-19 has had on NYC’s cultural sector, citing survey data collected by the [email protected] group that formed out of the crisis. The Commissioner gave an overview of the steps DCLA is taking to support organizations, stating that the Agency is up to date with payments to almost all grantees, and that they partnered with Americans for Arts to conduct a major survey of their grantees last month. In addition, Casals highlighted the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, and was inspired to see the cultural community speak out loudly against racism. He shared that DCLA is doing internal work to see how they can best distribute internal funds to ensure they are equitable, and that the City recently created a task force on monuments. Casals also stated that while they appreciate the intent of the proposed legislation, they are not sure the bill in its current form is the best way to achieve this. He closed out his testimony by stating that they are thinking about what reopening will look like for the cultural community, and that they are excited to partner with the Council to support the cultural sector.
  • Committee Chair Jimmy Van Bramer was excited to advocate for NYC’s cultural community with the new Commissioner, and praised him as a “fighter” who has fought for culture at the ground level. He stressed the importance of data on how COVID-19 impacted cultural organizations, and stated that “we need as much ammunition as possible” so that there is a lot of Council support for culture. In addition, Van Bramer stated that some cuts to the NYPD should be given to DCLA.
  • Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo advocated for DCLA to take direct and immediate action in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Some of the strategies she suggested included having DCLA proactively state that funding from the NYPD should shift to DCLA, increasing the number of CIGS through designating black organizations as such, and taking a position on monuments and statues.
  • Many cultural organizations testified on behalf of the NYC cultural community, highlighting the need for an intact DCLA budget, and their role in the social justice movement currently taking place across the country.
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