Why Federal Arts Funding Matters

Comptroller Scott Stringer _Headshot

Scott M. Stringer, Comptroller of the City of New York.

The arts are essential to New York City. Our cultural organizations enrich our neighborhoods, inspire and educate our youth, employ thousands of our residents, and attract millions of tourists to this city.

And yet President Trump is threatening to turn his back on the arts and our nation’s rich cultural heritage by eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts — a cut that would hurt cultural organizations in every neighborhood of this city and every community in this country.

Yesterday, my office issued a report that documents the N.E.A.’s critical role in supporting New York City’s cultural landscape, which includes not just our world-class museums and performing arts centers, but also scores of smaller organizations for whom these grants are critical lifelines. You can read the New York Times’ coverage here, or the full report here.

Here’s what we found:

  • 419 of New York City’s cultural non-profits received funding from the N.E.A. in 2016, up from 272 in 2000.
  • Since 2000, City cultural organizations have received a total of $233 million in N.E.A. grants, including $14.5 million last year alone.
  • $21 million in N.E.A. grants have gone to arts education since 2000, so these cuts will limit resources that reach our kids.
  • Over that same period, the number of organizations receiving grants in Brooklyn and the Bronx more than doubled, while the number of Queens recipients increased 43 percent.
  • N.E.A. dollars do more than just fund programs. Earning a national grant is a “seal of approval” that draws other donors. That allows local organizations to expand their reach, experiment with new projects, and attract New Yorkers from every community.
  • Arts and culture are also essential to the economic vitality of our city. In 2016, performing arts companies, museums, and historic sites employed 30,154 staffers and paid $453.4 million in total wages.

In short, the arts ecosystem that the N.E.A. supports is critical to the health and vibrancy of our City and the nation at large. Its elimination would be broadly felt, in every borough and in every museum, theater, school, and community.

We must continue to send a clear and unmistakable message from our City to the White House: eliminating the N.E.A. is totally unacceptable. We can and will stand together to defend New York City, its values, and its cultural organizations.

Scott M. Stringer is the 44th Comptroller of the City of New York. Follow him on Twitter, @scottmstringer.

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