New York, NY – As ticket sales for Broadway shows reopen, New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer today released a comprehensive agenda to jumpstart an equitable revival of the heart and soul of New York City — our arts and culture — with an historic investment in independent artists and arts organizations. Stringer’s arts revival plan would provide grants of up to $100,000 for small businesses and nonprofits adversely impacted by the pandemic, direct the Department of Cultural Affairs to permanently open up grants to individual artists, and provide general operating support to help cultural organizations cover day-to-day expenses.
To drive an equitable recovery of New York City’s arts and culture that is more vibrant, enriching, inclusive, and diverse, Stringer’s plan centers independent artists, venues, nonprofits, and businesses by:
“We cannot truly reopen our city’s economy without a revival of the heart of New York: our arts and culture,” said Comptroller Scott Stringer. “As we begin to reopen our economy, the City must do more than lift the curtain on our stages — we need a major revitalization to get direct support to our struggling cultural venues, performers, and impacted workers in each of the five boroughs. We must build back a more vibrant, inclusive, and daring cultural sector than ever before. We can do this by reimagining how city government interacts with the broader cultural community and by prioritizing greater equity and opportunity for artists of all ages and levels of development. This means more resources and government support for independent artists and arts organizations. When we invest in arts and culture, we invest in quality of life for communities. New York City is a cultural capital. Let’s bring it roaring back louder, stronger and better than before.”
Stringer’s plan, “It’s Showtime: A 25-Point Plan to Revive Arts and Culture in New York City and Build a More Equitable Future” is the next part of his mayoral agenda entitled “The Details to Deliver” — highlighting the need for specific, actionable plans to set New York City on a fundamentally new trajectory from the past decade and take the city forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, stronger and fairer than ever before.
An Equitable Arts and Culture Revival
There’s no place like New York City when it comes to arts and culture. From our world-class museums, to the bright lights of Broadway, to local DIY venues, to trailblazing artists and companies, the five boroughs represent the artistic center of the country and perhaps the world. It is where Abstract Expressionism and minimalist art, bebop, hip hop, and salsa, modern dance, modern ballet, break dancing, and voguing were born — and where every corner of every neighborhood is bustling with creativity and culture.
New York City’s ecosystem of artists, educators, craftsmen, media, philanthropy — and yes, audience members — are unmatched anywhere in the world. And yet it is precisely this interconnected network that has been so existentially threatened by COVID-19 and the profound job losses the pandemic wrought after cultural venues were forced to shutter more than a year ago.
Scott Stringer understands that New York City is all but defined by its arts and culture, and as mayor he will lead the charge to bring back the creative sector with four main priorities:
Getting the creative economy back on its feet by:
Launching the WPA-style, 21st-Century Artists Project to support artists and bring public art to all the five boroughs, including an historic mural project to celebrate our city and honor frontline workers;
Purchasing 250,000 tickets at cultural venues, as the City did after 9/11, and distributing them to frontline workers and students;
Allowing Department of Cultural Affairs grants to cover general operating expenses and baselining the Cultural Development Fund at $50 million;
Creating a relief fund for struggling arts-related businesses, nonprofits, and independent contractors from Stringer’s $1 billion NYC Recovery Now Fund;
Creating the “We Support NYC Culture” pledge, encouraging large employers to match all employee donations to arts groups;
Launching the “New York, New Day” advertising campaign to kickstart the economy and build back tourism;
Pedestrianizing blocks outside of cultural venues throughout the City to reduce crowding, improve the audience experience, and allow cultural venues to have space for outdoor events; and
Building a transportation system that better serves artists, audiences, and other off-peak workers.
Driving equity in the arts by:
Tripling the number of Summer Youth Employment Program and CUNY Cultural Corps slots linked to cultural organizations;
mproving wage standards and banning unpaid internships in the cultural sector for groups receiving city funds;
Doubling down on arts education in our schools, ensuring that every school has at least one full-time, certified arts teacher, and opening up our branch libraries seven days per week;
Designating an Artist Laureate and Youth Artist Laureate in every community district and holding an annual exhibition of their work; and
Launching “Museums to the People” to bring select collections and works outside of museum walls and to New Yorkers in their communities.
Increasing City support for individual artists by:
Setting aside 15 percent of city grant funds for individual artists, performers, arts collectives, and arts organizations that are “fiscally sponsored” rather than registered nonprofits;
Helping artists in every neighborhood access affordable work and rehearsal space by opening up city-owned buildings like New York City public schools to local artists;
Establishing a “New Deal” package of workplace protections and benefits for independent contractors;
Improving access to affordable housing by revamping the lottery process to ensure those with more volatile incomes are not disqualified from applying for affordable housing;
Helping New York City musicians by supporting more live music in bars and restaurants throughout the day; and
Opening up “Materials for the Arts” — a program to distribute and recycle arts materials — to individual artists.
Strengthening the Foundations of Arts Organizations and Venues by:
Cutting red tape, streamlining permitting and inspections, legalizing DIY venues, and expanding the MEND program specifically by:
Launching “Small Business and Nonprofit Express” within the Mayor’s Office, a single point-of-contact for starting a nonprofit or business, scheduling inspections, and obtaining and renewing a permit;
Cutting the time it takes to launch a nonprofit or business in half by 2023;
Waiving fees at all City agencies for cultural nonprofits;
Legalizing and accelerating permitting for do-it-yourself (DIY) venues across the five boroughs;
Expanding MEND NYC to help mediate conflicts rather than punish cultural venues for quality-of-life complaints; and
Eliminating the last vestiges of the Cabaret Law.
Driving down healthcare costs and improve healthcare access at small arts organizations;
Creating a property tax exemption for small and medium-size cultural nonprofits who rent their spaces;
Shifting the focus of the cultural capital program to invest in equipment, building systems, accessibility, and sustainability;
Working with ConEd to provide subsidized electricity rates for cultural organizations; and
Helping arts organizations share and manage costs.
To read the full Stringer arts’ revival plan, click here.
Scott Stringer was born and raised in Washington Heights. He attended P.S. 152 on Nagle Avenue and I.S. 52 on Academy Street. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, a CUNY school.
Stringer was elected City Comptroller in 2013. Prior to serving as Comptroller, he was Manhattan Borough President from 2006 to 2013 and represented the Upper West Side in the New York State Assembly from 1992 to 2005. He and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, live in Manhattan with their two children, Max and Miles.